The Impact of a Fall
We never know what the day will bring.
This past Saturday morning I slept a bit later than usual, until around 7 a.m. Did my usual journaling and morning reading while I had coffee, then moved to in the kitchen where I started a jar of peppers for lacto-fermentation, washed more peppers, put chicken in the stock pot to make broth.
Around 9:25 a.m. I retrieved my mobile phone from the bedroom and discovered I had missed three calls from my Mom during the past 30 minutes. It was a cold morning, the heat was on and I'd also been running water, so I hadn't heard my phone ringing.
I knew they had planned to take my nephew back to college early that morning, and my stomach tightened as I pressed play to listen to the first message.
In a very monotone voice I heard my mother say:
“Sheree I'm going to need your help. We need to get Davis back to school. I've fallen and I think my leg or hip is broken. Please call me back as soon as you get this message.”
The next message, a few minutes later, was just background noise. A third message, about 15-20 minutes after the first two, just restated the first request and said they had called an ambulance because Dad and Davis couldn't move her.
I usually wouldn't listen to all three messages before calling back–sometimes I don't even listen to a message before a return a call. But this time I did. I think I chose to listen to the second two as a way to steel myself for the conversation that would follow.
In the messages my mom's voice sounded like she was in shock.
I pressed the call button on my phone. My nephew, Davis, answered, and said they were loading Mom into the ambulance to take her to Helen Keller Hospital. I told him I'd be on my way up there shortly and we would get him back to school.
About 45 minutes later I called Davis to get an update. He said they hadn't done the x-rays yet, but they had confirmed there was no internal bleeding. He repeated that he wanted to spend the night and had gotten in touch with his coach about missing the afternoon game.
My next-door neighbors were very kind and helpful in agreeing to take the hot broth cooking on my stove, finishing it, and then freezing it for me after it cooled.
I set about getting some things somewhat in order at my house and left Birmingham just after noon. I was able to talk briefly with my mom who asked me to call her sisters. At that point, it didn't appear that surgery would happen until Sunday.
I called my brother, who didn't know about it yet. Mom had wanted to wait until she knew more, but once I found out he didn't know I called him. I knew that I would want him to call me immediately in a situation like this.
Chip said that 20 seconds before I called he'd had a sense of concern and had hoped everything was OK getting Davis back to college.
When I was about 30 minutes away from the hospital, I got a call from Chip telling me that they had been able to schedule the surgery after all and that Mom would be going into surgery at any moment. She was still in surgery when I arrived so I was present when the orthopedic surgeon came out to give us the results.
I spent most of the day Sunday driving my nephew back to college and then back to my house in Birmingham so I could work on Monday and make arrangements for the rest of the week, if I needed to be out.
On Monday we got a confirmation that Mom would transition from the hospital to an in-patient rehab hospital “for a few days.” She was transferred Monday. Based on what I know right now, she'll probably be there for two weeks. But the duration is really dependent on how the healing and rehab goes.
So I've spent the rest of the week here in Birmingham, trying to get my work done so that I can be available to help her when she gets discharged. In some ways, I've also tried to distract myself from thinking about the “what ifs” that potentially lie ahead for my family.
My heart is broken for my mom, because I know she's in pain and I know that the inability to take care of herself, her home and her family is as hard on her as the break itself.
If anyone can recover from an injury it's my mom. She's done it before in other situations. She fought off an aggressive from of breast cancer in 1997-98 and she fell and shattered her elbow in 2003. She's 69 years old, which isn't that old today, especially considering her overall excellent health.
I know the uncertainty of the situation is draining on her. A broken hip is much different than a broken elbow. A broken hip means she's not mobile right now. And her house has stairs, so there's the uncertainty of how she can continue to live in the home she built, recently remodeled, and loves.
We know that life can change in an instant, but we usually don't think about that.
We all hope and pray for the best.