11.Broken Ribs and Stroke and Dementia, Oh My


It was about this time that I began receiving emails with this message : “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it”. That statement was a source of comfort and strength over the next several months.

Mother, as I mentioned before, had been staying at Darla’s house at night. We just didn’t feel like it was safe to leave Mother at home by herself. Well, early in the morning April 10, the same day Daddy was to be discharged from the hospital, Mother fell in the bathroom at Darla’s house and broke four ribs! Darla felt so very bad, because she had brought Mother into her home to keep her safe, and the unthinkable happened. Of course, it was not Darla’s fault. This fall could have and would have happened anywhere.

Mother and Daddy literally passed each other in the hospital. He was being checked out and Mother was being checked in. How incredible is this? Daddy went home and our friend of the family spent the night with him. It was a horrible night, I understand. Mother was placed in a hospital room and they began giving her morphine to help control the pain. Major mistake.

I was back at home during this time, trying to get a few days of teaching in. Saving up sick days is a good thing. From January to the end of school in May I had not taught one complete week of school. When the semester began in January, there were 67 sick days in my account. At the end of May, there were 7.

I got the word about Mother’s fall in the afternoon (or was it morning? I don’t remember) of April 10. The next day, April 11, one of my sisters called and said that Daddy had a stroke and was back in the ER. Oh, my. What is this? How is this happening? I wanted to scream!!! This is unbelievable.

Daddy was still in the ER when I arrived. The stroke had affected the right side of his body. His right hand and arm from about the elbow down was just limp. I don’t think we even had him try to walk at the time. He could barely stand. My sisters and I took turns being with Daddy and then with Mother. Mother was still in considerable pain, and unable to move.

It was on this day that I had my one of my first ‘hip pocket’ moments. A ‘hip pocket moment’ is when you are faced with an emotionally difficult task. The ER was very busy that afternoon. Nurses were stretched very thin. Daddy had been lying on that ER bed for hours. He suddenly needed to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t find a nurse. He needed to go and he couldn’t wait. I still couldn’t find a nurse. In the room with me was a man, our friend of the family. We knew what needed to be done. This is where I ‘put my feelings in my hip pocket’ and grabbed the urinal. Together we helped Daddy use that urinal. Emotionally that was very hard to do, but how I felt about it didn’t matter. This was not about me. This was about him and his needs at the moment.

Daddy was placed once again in a room on the Oncology floor. Funny. Seems like he just left there. Ok. it wasn’t at all funny. I think it was the next day that the room next to him became empty, and we moved Mother into it. Having their rooms next to each other was great! This was their living arrangement for the next 5 1/2 weeks.

It was the 3rd or 4th day after Mother broke her ribs that the dementia began. I walked into her room early that morning. In a very sharp tone she said to me, “Where have you been?” She proceeded to tell me that the people in the hospital were trying to kill her and that the mirror in her room was actually a 2-way mirror. She said that there was a drug ring in the hospital and one of the physical therapists was the ring leader. Oh, it went on and on.

At first it was funny. We laughed about many things. She was ready to throw the Ensure cans on her bedside table at the nurses, The banana became a gun. She gave us commands about shutting the back door and putting the dog in the drier. Yes, it was funny at first. We thought it was just because of the pain medication she had been taking, and that as soon as we took those meds away, we would have our mother back.

Tomorrow: the night I will never forget.

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