Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

When I was in the hospital for my bilateral mastectomy, I sported a bracelet that read, "FALL RISK," and to be honest, I was quite indignant about that. What made them peg me as a fall risk? Someone old and doddery, okay, I get it, but I WAS NOT OLD AND DODDERY.

If heredity has anything to do with it, however, I am doomed.

Late last October, my mother fell flat on her back on the sidewalk on the town square when her cane slipped as she stepped down from the curb. Or that's her story about how it happened. She suffered compression fractures in her back and further damage to her already arthritic spine, hips and shoulders. She also had a concussion, and that rattling of her brain caused some pretty severe memory problems for her. Time and medication have helped her brain function improve, but she can't walk unassisted (meaning without a walker) and still has a tremendous amount of back and hip pain.

In other words, falls are very, very bad.

Between both of my parents, they have well over a dozen doctors, and I try to go to as many of their appointments with them as I can. Yesterday, they had a joint appointment with their internist in their hometown, an hour's drive from me, so I drove up for it after preschool (and after sleeping off a migraine AND voting in the presidential primary, so that will give you an idea of how my morning had gone up to that point). I called my dad to let him know I would meet them at the doctor's office (long line at the polling place), and he said fine and that was that. 

I arrived at the doctor's office just after they had been called back from the waiting room. My dad was still standing on the scale, his back to me, fiddling with the slidey thing on the scale while the nurse watched him. 

"Are you trying to cheat on your weight?" I asked him as I approached, and with his back still to me, he said to the nurse, "She hasn't seen me yet."

Then he turned around.

"DEAR GOD, WHAT DID YOU DO? DID YOU FALL?!" I asked, horrified.

"Yep," he said. 

"You landed on your FACE?"

"Yep. Broke my nose in three places. And I got two stitches. And scraped it here (points to forehead) and here (points to upper lip)."

"Where WERE you?"

"Outside the hospital this morning, picking your mother up from rehab (editor's note: shoulder, NOT drugs or alcohol) and my ankle kind of rolled and down I went."

My mother chimed in, "I was standing inside the door and saw the whole thing. I thought he had a seizure."

I suppose if you're going to face plant on concrete, doing it in front of a hospital is a good location, because people swarmed out of the building, picked him up, and hustled him into the Emergency Room. (This may be a little graphic, mmkay?) When he got to his feet, blood was gushing out of his nose to the extent that it hit the pavement and then spattered up onto his khaki pants knee-high. His shirt was covered with blood, and one of the front pockets (he has a two-pocket requirement for all shirts) ripped halfway off, and the pen he had had in the pocket came all the way through the fabric. There was a puddle of blood on the pavement the size of a dinner plate.

And he BROKE his FACE.

Back at their house after the appointment, I fixed dinner for them and prepared to leave, saying, "You've each had your fall. YOU fell (pointing to my mom) and YOU fell (pointing to my dad). I am done. No more falling allowed."

"No, no more falling," they both agreed, and I drove home.

Today, I called my dad to see if he was in much pain.

"It doesn't really hurt very much," he said. "But I've got one really black eye and the other one is getting there."

"Take a picture," I said.

"I did fall out of my chair today, though," he casually tossed out.

"Wait, what? You fell out of your chair onto the FLOOR?"

(He has a rolly desk chair in the kitchen that he uses when he's on the computer. He also uses the rolly chair when he's cooking or loading the dishwasher [two of his many new duties since my mom fell], as his back hurts when he stands for too long.)

"Well, I was stretching to reach something instead of getting up, and the chair kind of shot out from under me and dumped me on the floor."

(Take deep breaths. Take deep breaths. Take deep breaths.) "Did you hurt anything?"

"Just my thumb. It's a little stiff."


"That was my last one," he said.

If you need me, I will be searching Pinterest for how to make bubble wrap suits for both of them.


  1. ok…. best wishes for your father, he seems to not be bothered too much.

    for you (and your possible, but-genetics-don't-mean-anything-and-we'll-agree-that-we-didn't-read-recent-posts-involving-gravity)… one word: bubble wrap.
    there is (or surely will be) a flourishing line of bubble wrap fashion and fashion accessories.
    run to your local …wait!, don't run

    1. He has taken it very well, probably because it could have been SO MUCH worse.

      Okay, yes, I may have fallen down the other day, too. And whacked my head on the cabinet door. BUT I DIDN'T BREAK MY FACE.

      Buy stock in bubble wrap. Now.

  2. Aww not good.... Hope your dad heals fast and yes no more falling .... Hang in there

    1. Thanks, Marisa. He should (at 81) tell everyone he was in a barroom brawl.

  3. I know. Believe me I know. Prayers for your parents and YOU now and in the years to come

  4. Ouch. It's amazing to me that as parents grow old, and aren't able to do what they used to, that some, like your Dad, just accept it. They take it as it comes and life goes on. It's a quality worth adopting. Not all old people feel that way of course, and I'd say my mother-in-law didn't - she frequently said there was nothing good about getting old.
    I can also understand your feelings about them falling. It's not easy watching your parents grow old.

    1. My dad has really stepped up to the plate on this whole thing. He never cooked anything in his life, and now he's preparing meals and doing laundry. I know it's hard for him, but he's a trouper. I hope I'm like him someday.

  5. Oh, his face looks so incredibly sore. Falls really can change everything for the elderly. My mom was scooting out the door to go feed the elderly at the home when she fell at age 90. Dang it! If I could just erase that one moment from history, all the following ones would have been so different. Swaddle them in that bubble wrap! Or maybe those blow up sumo wrestler suits!

    1. He swears it doesn't really hurt that much, but maybe it's because he already has a lot of arthritic pain in his knees and back, so by comparison, this is not bad. Oh, those split seconds that make everything change. The sumo wrestler suits sound like a great plan!

  6. Oh good GRIEF! I hope they're both on the mend and have NO MORE FALLS!

  7. (and don't YOU start, either)