My mother fell a couple of months ago. She was out walking and a bit of uneven pavement upended her. She tried to roll into the fall but only succeeded in breaking a couple of ribs. It was difficult and painful but there wasn’t anything to do about it apart from trying to be careful about stretching and especially refraining from laughing. X-rays were taken and the best medical advice was simply “wait for it to heal”.
Over the next couple of weeks there was progress and there were setbacks. All to be expected. Eventually she was back to full steam. So much so that we had agreed to travel to the UK. She was very keen to revisit Scotland where she had been born and I was still infatuated with the idea of Bristol. We planned it all out, booked flights, found flats through airbnb and set the whole thing up. She was frustrated with the process at times, saying it was much easier to just leave all the details to a travel agent. But it was more cost-effective my way and you could find more interesting, out-of-the-way places.
We enlisted a couple of fine fellows to take shifts in looking after her cat and staying in her apartment. A meeting was held over dinner in which pertinent information was laid out. She had devised a list and I added to it: I deemed it important to note that if you used a normal amount of detergent in the high-efficiency washer, you’d have to rinse your clothes several times. I also pointed out that her black cat liked to sleep between the bedroom and the bathroom so if you got up in the middle of the night, she would be invisible and you might step on her.
Airline tickets, cat-sitters, reservations for flats across Great Britain all lined up and ready. Three nights before our flight, my mother got up in the middle of the night. She almost stepped on her invisible black cat. To avoid crushing her, my mother unstepped herself and fell, her chin crashing against the sink on her way down.
brief pause: I am going to make a judgement here. If you did not wince at the image of falling and having your CHIN hit the sink as you were falling, you might want to take one of those “are you a psychopath” kind of tests. Cos that’s messed up.
I got a phone call from her in the morning. “Are you sitting down?” she asked me. I sat down. She was in the hospital. She was waiting. They had put her in a neck brace before putting her in the ambulance as a precaution. It wasn’t one of those soft neck braces that people in injury lawyer commercials wear to demonstrate whiplash either: it was the kind with the rods and pins and shit. She had been there for several hours and was waiting for testing to be done.
Another aside: at some point in her ordeal, one of the three doctors who came to see her took the call button and moved it our of her reach. The massive neck brace effectively immobilized her and when she had to go to the washroom she had no way to alert the nurses. She banged her bed a bit but her voice wasn’t up for shouting. Ever the resourceful and determined woman, she got her cell phone which was lying beside her (and from which she had called me), and dialled 911. I kid you not. She explained that she was immobilized in a hospital and wanted to speak to someone in charge. She became known in the ward as “the one who called the cops on us” but she got her bedpan and they remembered her name and made sure the call button was within reach.
So, tests were eventually done. Head was okay. They also noticed some severe bruising on her legs and ankle. More tests. No broken bones but she could expect “some soreness”.
I was petrified. I had images of her breaking her neck or a hip or some unspecified worse thing. It was plenty bad enough as it was but my mind had been racing and I was in a tailspin of panic. My mother was more muted. If it’s not one thing, it’s another thing, she told me. “Getting old ain’t for sissies.”