Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Matter of Time

My father is getting older, and has many of the ailments of a senior citizen. Some years back he had hip replacement surgery. True to most similar situations in his life, he refused to follow the doctor's orders, and his hip didn't heal exactly like it should have. If I remember correctly, he also refused to do physical therapy as long as the doctor ordered. So now he has some difficulty getting around, and stumbles quite a bit when he walks. My sister Nene had knee replacement surgery, and by her example was finally able to convince my father that using a cane isn't something to be ashamed of, so he now uses a cane. But truthfully, he should be using a walker. Almost every time he gets up to walk, he stumbles a bit. As a matter of fact, I can't remember the last time that he got up that he didn't stumble. It causes quite a scare for his children.

Actually my father has fallen quite a few times. Sometimes he has hit his head, other times he narrowly missed hitting it. Once he hit his shoulder and dislocated something that will never be quite the same again. I watched helplessly one time as he fell, hit the recliner (thank goodness) which broke his fall, and then narrowly missed hitting the piano bench with his head. Once he fell in the closet, and it was all my mother could do to get him out. She recently had hernia surgery which I personally blame on her efforts to pick up my Dad when he falls. Most of the time they don't tell us when he falls. In fact, whenever he gets hurt in any way, he swears her to secrecy. I don't know if she just needs to vent or what, but she often leaks the secrets to me and my siblings. So basically, we know that he falls, although he usually doesn't get hurt seriously.

While I was visiting my parents this past week, I saw two instances that just made me cringe. The first happened when we were having our family reunion. Dad had driven his truck there, so only had to walk a short ways to find a chair. We put up one of those camping awnings to keep the sun off us. It also worked quite nicely when it started POURING on our reunion. Dad sat comfortably under the awning while rain poured all around. Finally there was a let up in the rain, so we all decided to head home. I think it was still sprinkling a little, and I don't know if my Dad thinks he is made of sugar or not, but he must have thought he would melt, (those who spent the week with him might vote for "wicked warlock of the west" that would melt.) because he RAN for the car. Don't misunderstand, he didn't run the way you and I run. It was more the way a toddler just learning to walk runs; kind of stiff leg-edly stumbling along. This was over uneven ground, in the rain. Oh, did I mention my father has eye sight problems and doesn't have good depth perception? So the little step down that you and I carefully maneuver, he might not even see. I yelled for him to stop running, but he basically told me to mind my own business.

The next event happened at church. Once again, as we were preparing to leave church it started pouring. Dad decided he couldn't get the least bit wet. He would rather break his neck than get a little wet. So once again he ran for the car...on...wet....sidewalks. I yelled again for him to stop running. He said, "Stop trying to be my boss!" I said, "If you fall and break your hip, can I be your boss then?" See what a sassy daughter I am?

I think that sometimes when people get older they begin to lose control of their lives. They lose control of their body to some degree, and can't do what they used to be able to do. As they get older and older, they lose control over more and more things. So they begin to hold more tightly to the things they can, even if their decisions aren't the wisest.

As I was driving out of town on my way home I had one recurring thought. I kept thinking to myself, "It's just a matter of time." My Dad has dodged the bullet NUMEROUS times. He has fallen MANY times without getting seriously hurt. It's just a matter of time until he falls and is seriously injured. I'm no prophetess, but I'm telling you now, it's just a matter of time.


Amber said...

the sad thing is is that that fall that is finally serious will be the death of him. I would've told him - when you behave like a child, you get treated like a child. I seriously think he needs adovan - maybe grandma can slip it in his drinks lol

Inklings said...

I agree with you, and our mother scares me, too. They think it won't happen to them. I even tried to scare them with the story of my neighbor who fell, was in the hospital a month, in a care center 4 months, and who DIED 2 weeks after he went home!

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

I have my 93 year old father living with me and I am his primary care giver. I have to be constantly alert when he is out of his room and doing anything else and find it nerve racking to be away from home for long periods of time unless, my son stays back at home to keep an eye on him. He has not had any of the problems that your father has had but is hard of hearing and will not wear his hearing aid.

Amber, If at that age, death comes immediately after a fall, that will be a blessing for all concerned. It is rare that it happens that way. Falls are usually followed by broken bones, surgery, recovery, further problems etc and all concerned go through problems over and over again.

Both my son and I are very firm with my father and see that he does nod to do anything rash and get into problems.

Nene said...

Dad's hip didn't set right - not because he didn't do therapy long enough, but because he refused to use a pillow between his knees when he slept on his side at night. Using the pillow is critical for hip replacement patients. The nurse told him if he didn't use the pillow his hip wouldn't set right. He told her that it was his hip and he woluld do what he wanted. Now he's paying for his stubbornness.

Inklings said...

The dr. told Mom that 80% of women die within one year of breaking their hip, and for men, it is slightly lower. Pretty scary odds.
Ramana, you have my sympathy, because being a caregiver can be a trying experience. My cousin told me when her dad lived with her, there were times she had to send him to his room. :0)