It’s not easy

I was holding my cell phone in my hand this morning at 6:34 a.m., looking at the weather report for Columbus, JFK and London, England – my destination over the holidays to celebrate Patrick’s 50th birthday. And then the phone rang, and the Alz center’s number appeared. This is one day before I leave for an overseas vacation, I thought. Of course I’m getting a call about Mom at the crack of dawn. A nurse had to let me know that on rounds last night, she found Mom lying on the floor by her bed. She presumably rolled out. She has bruising on her face. She seems to be OK.

Visiting Mom was on my list of things to do, so I went in the morning instead of after work. She had just finished breakfast. She has bruising, alright. Two black eyes and some extensive swelling of her left eyelid. It looked to me, as I examined the bruises, like she bumped her forehead and her left cheek when she landed. There is now a full-length pad next to her bed. I don’t think the Alz center uses rails on most beds – if residents want to get up, they can get up and venture out whenever they want to. So a pad is the next best thing to save Mom from herself. It was hard to get a good picture of her face – I didn’t want anyone on staff to think I was recording this for any legal reasons. It’s just part of the Bonnie archive.

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I rubbed Mom’s arm and held her hand and talked to her quietly. She burped, which made her laugh. She smiled from time to time, and she talked. I tried to encourage her to stand up by pulling on her arms – the usual method – and she said, “Ouch ouch ouch ouch.” So I am concerned that she might have some other injuries from the fall. Just sitting, she seemed fine and pain free. The nurse said she’ll be evaluated by a physical therapist to be sure. I timidly felt around her face for bumps and, to my surprise, I started to cry. I don’t usually cry when I’m with Mom and I don’t want her to see me cry – I worry that she could sense the sadness. So I wiped away the tears and tried one more time to get her to stand so I could move her to a chair where she could watch the music activity that had started. She said “Ouch” again so I just let her be.

I’ve worried about her mobility since the Christmas party on Dec. 12. That day, I found her asleep in bed but managed to stand her up and walk her out to the program area to watch the Elvis impersonator’s performance. She was a little more shuffly with her steps and definitely less stable as she stood up and then lowered into a chair – both times, she needed substantial help. But when I left that day and asked if she might be a wheelchair candidate, a nurse assured me that Mom was not at all ready for a wheelchair – especially because she hasn’t suffered any falls from a standing position. Shows how little I know after all this time. Despite her general sedentary ways, I do wonder if Mom – who can also be a contrarian – might have some disdain for a wheelchair at this point anyhow.

I couldn’t understand what she said today, of course, and I was so distracted that I didn’t try very hard, either, to offer a positive response. When I did pay attention, I sensed a slight urgency in her manner – like it is more difficult just to make the sounds she makes, which she has always done freely and frequently. Maybe another decline, an inability to vocalize, is ahead of us. Or maybe I imagined it. But her one clear phrase, besides “Ouch,” was easy to hear and understand: “It’s not easy,” she said. It’s not easy being Bonnie. Sometimes it’s not easy being me.

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9 comments so far

  1. Terri Reeves Hill on

    Momma’s face looks like it really hurts. I am so glad you look after her, Emily. You are doing the very best that you can in the situation. Merry Christmas and enjoy your trip! ❤

  2. Gemma McLuckie on

    I’m sorry Bonnie’s accident has put an unhappy shadow over your birthday trip. I understand your tears. Seeing her poor bruised face must have been such a shock.

  3. Gemma McLuckie on

    Terri, Bonnie’s face may not be hurting all that much. I fell on my face a few year ago. People were horrified at the bruises that spread from my forehead to chin but they didn’t bother me
    Sounds like her muscles, on the other hand, are stiff and sore.

  4. Patricia Caldwell on

    Emily,
    From my mother’s experience in the nursing home, I was told that using bed rails is not allowed. I can’t remember if it’s in the law, or just a policy that binds all nursing homes. It’s unfortunate because they would have prevented my mother’s broken hip.

  5. momsbrain on

    Hi, all! I think Mom does have some signs of bumps on her forehead and cheek that might hurt to the touch, but the worst-looking bruises are not the painful ones, I believe (thanks, Gemma, for confirming that is likely the case.) Jeff and Laura are going to do some checking while I’m away so all should be fine! Pat, that is interesting info. I wondered if a rail could be a strangulation risk. It is an interesting dilemma. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Barb Vogel on

    Glad you got to enjoy a celebration, Patrick’s birthday. Happy holidays. Very exhausting, I have been in your shoes. My mother fell on her face also but Westminster said they couldn’t use rails or restraints.

  7. Thanks for this interesting Blog! I just found it. You mentioned music several times. Does the music help your Mom to be more present, at least at times?

  8. Stephanie M on

    Emily, I am so sorry that happened right before your trip! I hope all is well now and that you had a great trip overseas even though you were worried about your mother.

  9. momsbrain on

    Catching up on comments… Hi, Barb! I know we have had many similar experiences… I hope you are enjoying your holiday break in the sun!

    Sally, welcome and thank you for reading and commenting. I don’t think my mom has much of a sense of what music is, but she does sometimes respond to the sounds with what looks a little bit like concentration, and on rare occasions will try to dance. My brother put headphones on her when he visited around Christmas and he thought she seemed to show some enjoyment of what she was hearing.

    Stephanie, thank you for your kind thoughts. We had a great trip, and Mom seems to be back to her “normal” self. It helped that my brother was in town while I was away.


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