Emma is standing at the kitchen sink doing the dinner dishes. I am upstairs in my writing studio, the room above the kitchen. I hear a PHLUMP. Then, silence. Alarmed, naturally, I descend the back stairs from my studio into the kitchen. I find Emma crawling around on the floor across the room from the sink, over by the powder room. She is trying to find something to hold onto to pull herself up, a chair, probably.
“What happened?!” I ask, bringing a chair and helping her up.
“I don’t know,” she says.
“Were you standing at the sink and you got dizzy and fell?”
“I don’t know.” She simply doesn’t remember. One moment she is standing at the sink, the next she is on the floor.
The fall in the kitchen in 2005 was her first. In succeeding falls, she experienced moments of insensibility, where she would be down and unresponsive, her eyes glazed over. I’d look into her eyes and call her, “Mother. Mother!” It was frightening. Each time, I thought this might be the end. I’d lift her and prop her up so she sat against the wall until, after about three minutes, she regained her sensibilities. Then I’d run to a neighbor, once getting one down off his roof, to help me pick her up.
Her first major fall happened when I was helping her get out of the tub and she folded up and got wedged on the tile floor between the side of the tub and the front of the toilet. It was her birthday. Her legs and an arm were bent at odd angles. She could not get up on her own and I could not get her up. So I ran next door hoping to get my neighbor. She is strong, experienced at this. She knows what to do. But she wasn’t home. Her younger brother, in his early 40s, came instead. We wrapped her in her robe, helped her into her room, he left and I dressed her.
By 2007, she was making her way around the house by grabbing onto furniture. She fell and hurt her arm. She couldn’t climb into her king size bed, then. I had to help her, but I couldn’t lift her. My gardener’s wife helped me that time. She came right over herself, even though she lives 20 minutes away, has six children and it was dinnertime. We got Emma undressed and into bed. After that, I placed a small stepstool beside her bed. She used it even though one night, to my surprise, I saw her climb into the other side of the bed without it.
Around then, I had a party, and a woman friend said to me, “You need help. You really need to get help.” I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it. I thought I couldn’t, I suppose. And it wasn’t easy. After weeks of my calling various healthcare agencies. one responded and sent us a wonderful, caring aide who bought a foot tub for Emma. The aide bathed her, washed her feet, applied body lotion, face cream, Emma’s favorite red lipstick, perfume and jewelry, all of which Emma would have done on her own had she been able. Medicare paid for this help because Emma needed physical therapy after her arm injury. So, this was temporary, for about six weeks. But for a time, I got help five hours a week and Emma got a walker.
Hi My Dear,
So sorry. I understood from what I was reading that she fell and broke her arm. I thought the arm injury meant a broken arm.
Oh, no problem, Patricia. I don’t know about you, but, I, myself, am getting rather bloggy-eyed at this point.
I can so relate to the trauma you experienced with your mom, not knowing what would happen next. I too am glad the “fall and broken arm” helped you get support.
Did your mom have a low blood pressure? I am learning that a low blood pressure and lack of water will cause falls too.
My mother had high blood pressure, Gwynn, and, before I arrived on the scene, often did not take her medication because it made her dizzy. Blood pressure medications and when and how they are taken have changed since then — thankfully for me. Mother, due to the high blood pressure, had vascular dementia. When she fell in the kitchen, she apparently blacked out, lost her sensibilities momentarily. Mother didn’t break her arm when she fell and my gardener’s wife helped; she just twisted it.
Yes, many days for me during my caring for my mother were traumatic — I’m sure for her, too, and that she recognized that on some level. In fact, I do believe that I am still suffering from PTSD.
I could feel the falling Samantha, you described it so well and your attendance on your mother. Bless those helpers who came to your aid.
Amazing how it sometimes (most times) take another to pint out ‘you need help’. I reckon we get so swamped by doing what needs to be done that we forget we need help.
Thank you for this post.
Good insight, Susan — getting so swamped doing that we forget we need help.
Yes, bless those helpers, and the Roos who came to my aid, too.
Thank you for your kind compliment.
Somedays you must have wondered “what next?”. I definitely remember the days of sleeping with one ear and one eye open and not getting much of it.
I knew that I’d found an angel the day I discovered your post with the world’s longest title on Linked in……thank you, thank you, thank you my dear sweet Carol
Sweet comment, Val. And, yes, you’re right. Often, now, I’ll be working at my writing or getting into bed at night thankful that I will not be suddenly interrupted by some catastrophe, as much as I miss my mother.
Yes, that LinkedIn title was posed as a question, not meant to be a title. But, then, the group and subject expanded and I met you Roos. I must say, though, long as the title was, it was specific, so it kind of kept out the riffraff, except tor the woman who said she was having an affair with a man named after a cigar.
Thank for coming by and commenting, Val. I really appreciate your kindness.
I feel sorry that she had to break her arm for you to get aid assistance but I am glad it happen. That gave you six weeks of being able to find a little time for yourself and maybe to catch up on some things that had been falling behind.
I like the fact that your neighbors and friends are very caring. It seems like you had a good support group among the friendships that you had made and that was indeed a blessing.
Hi Patricia. My mother did not break her arm, thankfully, just somehow twisted it. But the physical therapist gave Mother a range-of-motion exercise routine, which I had aides from subsequent agencies follow. I really didn’t have much time to catch up on things, because, once I got help in 2008, it was only five hours a week, sometimes a few more, until I got 30-hr-wk Attendant Services care (story to be told under “H”) in August 2012.
Yes, I have the most wonderful neighbors. Maybe I’ll write about them under “N.” They are the kind of people who will leave cabbages and squash from their gardens on your front porch. Indeed a blessing.