Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adventures With Mom on a Saturday Night

I haven't regaled you readers with a "Mom" saga since last November.  You're overdue.

Mom has been at home since her discharge from rehab at The Glen last November.  She was in pretty good shape when she left The Glen; they'd rehabbed her little self into pretty sturdy form  (That picture, left, was taken the day we brought her home).   We'd set her up with some nice Home Health folks who were going to come by every so often and continue rehab exercises, check vitals, etc.

In no time at all mom decided she didn't need those Home Health people; they just showed up whenever they wanted to and didn't do anything anyway, according to her.

She was so difficult to live with that my brother bailed on his attempt to live with her and help take care of her.  I can't fault him too much; he tried.  She's challenging.

We do have a wonderful girl, a CNA, that comes nearly everyday to help mom with bathing and preparing meals and some light housework.  She's been a godsend.

Fast forward to last night.  About ten o'clock Steve and I get a call from the LifeAlert people that mom had pushed her "help" button but they weren't getting a response from her.  Panic!

Steve and I rush over to mom's (she's about five minutes away).  I have on my pajamas and tennis shoes and on the way over I realize we're not going to be able to get in.  I have keys, but she has sliding dead bolts and barricades herself in that place after dark.

"Dammit, she can't DO that!"  Steve exclaims.  He's right.  It's a problem.

We pull up in the driveway and mom's bedroom light is still on.  This is way past her bedtime so I know something is amiss and she hasn't just pushed the LifeAlert button by accident.

I try to open the front door with my key: it's deadbolted.  I look in the front window and don't see anything.  Peeking between the slats of the blinds, I don't see her on the floor.  We go around to the side door:  same thing.  But again, I can't see her on the floor.  Back door?  Forget it.  Back around to the front, panic building, we go to the other side of the house and where her window unit is, we are able to slide back the wings that go from the a/c unit to the side of the window frame.  I can peek inside her bedroom and see she isn't in the bed, but her walker isn't there either. 

This means she's in the bathroom.  I can't see in there without a ladder.

We holler, bang on doors and windows, and finally call the police department.  They agree to send someone over so we go back on the front porch to wait.  I'd have busted a window and just gone in, but there was no good window to do that with.  We needed the Fire Dept. to get us in.

While we're waiting, I hear the LifeAlert machine go off again; the guy on the other end is trying to make contact with mom, talking to her, but getting no answer.  But this means she's pushed the button again, so it's a good sign.

After what seems like forever, a police car shows up.  Two officers walk up and I explain the situation.  I told him, "If you can just crowbar this storm door open, we can break that glass and get in this door." 

"I can't do that,"  he says. 

I'm like, "What do you mean you can't do that?  I have to get in there!"  He walks off to the back of the house.  About that time Steve says, "THEY can....": the Fire Dept. has arrived.

So I explain the situation again.  There are at least four firemen I think.  I was pretty panicky by this time.  Two more cops have come so now we are ten. 

They look over the situation and finally somebody breaks out the crowbar and says, "You sure you want me to do this?"  I said, "Do it."

He crowbars the storm door open, busts the window pane in the door, and in they all go.  I hung back to be last, not wanting to be the one to find anything awful.  Steve was second one in.

They find her, as I predicted, in the bathroom.  She has fallen into the (empty) bathtub and can't get out.  She's sitting there, indian style, waiting for help.

A couple of the guys get her out (mom weighs maybe 85 pounds) and get her into the living room where she immediately puts in her hearing aids and lights a cigarette.  She doesn't seem particularly shocked to see eight uniformed officers in her living room.  It's as if they've just come by to say hello at 11:00 on a Saturday night.

So reports are filled out, mom is checked out and nothing is broken.  They ask her if she wants to go to the hospital and she said, "Hell no!  I don't EVER want to go back there!"  They all laugh.  I roll my eyes.  She's got a goose egg on her head, an abrasion on her arm, and a sprained shoulder.  Today she is black and blue on that arm.

After checking everything out, all the police and EMTs leave.  Mom insists on a cocktail, smokes at least eight more Pall Malls, and complains about her shoulder.  We try again to take her to the ER but she says no way. 

Steve and I had a talk with her before we left last night about dead bolting the door where I can't get in to help her and we've now solved that situation.  We all suspect she'll have to go back to The Glen soon; she's just too tottery to live alone; and she did love The Glen.  I'd love for her to be able to stay in her own home, but she's nearly 87; she's very feeble because she has neuropathy, she doesn't eat well and is a fall risk.  It's just dangerous. 

I went over today and handled the broken window pane (we didn't tell her about that because she'd have freaked out).  She's stiff and sore but okay.  Not nearly as bad as last summer when she fell off the porch. 

But, a decision must be made.  It's not easy.


Randy-g said...

Tough call to make for sure. My mother passed at 52, my father at 60, my older sister 2 weeks shy of her 50th B-day all from cancer. I am 53 now and cherish every damn day, I hope you cherish every minute with your Mother(even the trying times)and the rest of your family too. I will ask God to send you all a special blessing. P.S. You have a terrific blog!

Andy said...

Wow Pat, these are toughies.

I am not there just yet with my folks, but I know it's coming. I do however work every day around situations similar to yours.

And, it sucks! Y'all have our prayers. The Glen is about as good as it gets really. Hopefully she'll agree.

Y'all have our prayers. And, your Ma does, too.

Pat Austin said...

Thank you, Randy!

And thank you, too Andy! She likes the Glen and is sort of resigned to the idea. We're taking it on a day to day basis right now.

Anonymous said...

Pat, I read that it's not the fall on hip bone breaks. I read that 68% of all breaks happen while the person is standing and they fall after the hip or leg bone breaks. I was very surprised by this. Hope this helps. Your Mother is now on my prayer list, Steve

Chuck Monson said...

You are a wonderful daughter. Bless you and your Mom.

MikeAT said...

Not a pleasant place to be. My grandmother passed in late 08 at age 94 but before that we had some serious issues to deal with. When she turned 88 we had to either have someone stay with her or the family would chip in to hire someone. By 90 we had to put her in a facility...her mind was still good but physically she could not be left alone. As much as we all hated it we knew it was the best decision.

My prayers for your Mom and your family....

Sarah said...

I laughed and cried while I read this and then read it to my parents. I've come to the conclusion that dealing with a sick/aging parent is the worst thing in the world. Prayers for all of you...