Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Fearful Day

 You know the day's not going to be a good one when you're awakened from a deep sleep by someone yelling, "Come quick! I've hurt myself! I'm bleeding!". I remember dreaming when I crashed to consciousness by the frenzied call of Mom up the steps to my bedroom.
 I jumped out of bed - fully awake in an instant - and ran down the steps. She was standing there with a bloody bath towel wrapped around her left hand. "What did you do?" I asked. She explained that she was trying to get out of the bathtub when she found one hand beneath herself. The skin on her hands and arms is like wet tissue paper and tears as easily. She lifted the towel away and I saw a large flap of skin folded back. Blood dripped from the wound.
 There was no way I was going to repair an opening of this sort. A few Band-Aids weren't going to do any good, either. That's when Mom suggested a sterile gauze bandage that we kept in the upstairs bathroom. I ran back up, grabbed the pad (still sealed) and applied it to the wound, using paper tape to hold it in place.
 She proceeded to dress while I did the same. We headed for the Emergency Room at Sycamore Medical Center (Miamisburg) just after 7 a.m. We went through triage and because our injury wasn't as serious as others, waited. A doctor eventually closed the wound. I don't know how many stitches it took - I was present but I wasn't watching - and I know his little machine clicked many times. Rather than thread, I imagine the wound was closed with some type of staple. We'll know when we look at it again. But - please! - not now!
 The doctor wrapped a slightly elastic bandage over the new gauze and said we were free to go.

 This is how Mom's hand looks this morning. That's one part of her that doesn't hurt.
 To make matters worse, yesterday was the day she was scheduled for hernia surgery (same hospital) at 2:30 p.m. We got out of the ER at about 10:30 am so we just stayed. We were told to be at Admissions by 11:45 am. By 1 pm Mom was being prepped for surgery. My brother, Bob, joined me at about 4:30 pm (he had a meeting in Cincinnati that we asked he not cancel). The doctor came out to give me an update at about 3 pm. He said Mom came through the operation fine but that she was very groggy and that it would take a while before she could go home. Could I care for her if he discharged her? You bet!
 We left the hospital about 7 pm (12 hours after the day began). Mom had an exceedingly hard time getting around the house, in an out of bed, etc. I literally had to lift her or offer support with every step. By 10 pm I had set up a cot in our dining room; Mom and Dad slept in the living room.

 I mostly laid awake much of the night, listening to her every groan. I got her up at 1 am and again at 4 am for the bathroom ... actually a portable toilet beside her bed. I'd get her up, leave so she could have privacy and come back to tuck her in again. Dad, meanwhile, needed tucking it, too. His arthritis is flaring up and he is in extreme pain also.
 Nothing is normal but it's a new day and things look brighter. The hernia is, at least, a hernia: no more.
 Trouble is, the pain down into her leg is no better. She'll need X-rays to check the bones there. "Why did I have this done?" she asked me. "Because you needed it done," I answered. She's had the hernia for many decades. We'll just keep whittling away until we find the source of her pain. It'll take a while.
 During the night, two bands of storms passed through. I'd hear the thunder approach and listen to the rain tap on the window beside the cot. It was a pleasant sensation, actually, knowing that the natural world goes on whether we're well or ill, here or gone. While our own lives are of the utmost important to ourselves, the universe at large has no interest in the individual. The storms come, they go and life moves on.
 At least our family is still intact. While the storms passed east, our own storm subsided. All was quiet. A new day had begun.

Additional: On 03/25 I removed the bandage on Mom's hand so that it could air. If you're squeamish, don't look!