I was awakened this morning by cello music. Since I was asleep I didn't quickly identify the Bach Cello suite as the ring tone I've set for me phone, though I know it when I'm awake. Unfortunately, this meant that by the time I woke up enough to answer, Thyrza was leaving a message. That's what the elders do. They ALWAYS leave messages. Then they move on to call Beve, E, and, on occasion, our other two kids (even when they're across the state and couldn't possibly be of any assistance), so it's almost impossible to call them back, even when it's urgent that we do so. Like this morning.
You see, Grampie fell this morning. He'd gotten up to use the bathroom, then walked out of the bathroom without his walker. Plum forgot about it. When he remembered and turned back to get it, he slipped and fell. Wouldn't you know it. It was on his way back that he fell. And as he fell, he was so concerned about protecting his left eye that he's had three surgeries on in the last year, he didn't pay one bit of attention to the rest of his body (though I doubt it would have made a bit of difference, being old and brittle as he is). So he broke his left hip. Clear through. 6 mm separating it from the ball at the moment.
He's lying with his feet sticking off the end of a bed on the third floor of the hospital across town right now, waiting for surgery. Tomorrow, if his blood thickens up enough. He's been a little high centered today on how strange his leg feels, like it's curving in toward the other one. And he must have told the orthopedic surgeon five times that he wants to be 'darn sure' he has a DNR in place. The last time he said it, I finally touched his arm and said, "We all hear you, Grampie," and he calmed down. His other concern about how Thyrza will manage without him. The truth is that she does most of the managing these days, but he still thinks of himself as the provider in their relationship.
This is a very familiar song to me. I've sung the melody a couple of times before. Seen a parent fall, break something, lose more of themselves in the recovery. Talked to hospitalists, orthopedic surgeons, nurses, social workers, made lists, sat in hospital rooms. An elderly parent with dementia is a very specific kind of ortho patient, if you ask me. Such a patient doesn't remember not to move in certain directions, not to put weight on the leg. Grampie, like my mom, doesn't feel pain, which is sometimes a symptom of Alzheimers (and, frankly, I'll take it over the opposite--people who feel pain acutely, which can also be a symptom). This is day one. The day before surgery, before the anesthesia which might wreck even more havoc on his holey brain.
Oh, but there was this surreal moment of the day: Beve's brother and son had already intended to come up for the day, so, with Thyrza, there were five of us squished in Grampie's hospital room. Suddenly in walked Beve's sister's husband. Now a widower, of course. P was with his girlfriend (though why we would call a woman clearly in her fifties a 'girl'-anything, I don't know!). They stopped by on their way out to Birch Bay where she has a vacation place. Friendly and warm, it was nice to meet her. But then they invited all of us to come on out for a party and a swim. Even Thyrza. Seriously? Grampie just fell and broke his hip, is lying in a hospital bed, Beve and I are just trying to figure out logistics for the next 24 hours. Moving Thryza around in a wheelchair, being with Grampie when the doctors are there so we get all the information. Sure, we have plenty of time for a party and swim out in Birch Bay. I wonder what my face looked like when they were inviting us. I often wonder if people can read what I'm thinking, because it feels almost impossible to keep my mouth from dropping wide open at such moments. Yep, seriously surreal.
But it was for this that we moved Grampie and Thyrza here. Here where, when such phone calls come, they are a mere 10 to 15 minutes from us, rather than 3+ hours and a ferry-ride away. And everyone (but Grampie!) sleeps in their own bed tonight. Thyrza could go home for an afternoon nap, we could take a break--because who knows what tomorrow will bring--and we'll all be better for it. Yes, this is why they're here.