G'ma fell. She doesn't remember how or why but her screams brought the aides to the bathroom at 5am on Sunday. My phone rang ten minutes later; I knew it wasn't going to be good news as soon as I saw the time. No one calls to share happiness before the sun rises.
The EMT met me in the courtyard; the gate is locked and the code is outside and he was stuck within. We laughed about it and then, looking altogether too serious, he asked me if I was squeamish. There was the second indication that everything was not all right.
Her leg was broken. The sole of her foot was next to her ear. It took ten milligrams of morphine to sedate her enough to move her from the floor to the gurney. I stayed out of the way, in the living room of the pod castle, sparing myself the sight, heeding my family's warnings to be sure to take care of myself, too. By the time we met up at the hospital, they'd reduced the fracture (medical speak for putting her leg back in the direction from whence it came) and inserted another IV or two. She never really woke up all day.
The trauma team was so impressed with the fracture that the photo showed up on many cell phones. G'ma had no idea how it happened or that it had happened or where she was or why. She didn't remember the ambulance or the fall. She was in a much better state of mind than I was.
We were in the trauma center at University of Arizona Medical Center, the same place that saved my life in 2008. It was like old home week. "I was here that day." "I was your ..." "You look so good!" "How are you doing?" They weren't random comments; it was reestablishing connections to a seminal event. I felt the love, just as I had that January. My answer to everyone was the same: I'm fine. I'm back where you saved my life. Mom is in good hands.
The homeless dude in the bay next door was hollering and screaming and making his displeasure known. No f'ing way was he being treated by people of color, though his verbiage was somewhat less politically correct than that. The staff kept apologizing and trying to close the door, but I found the whole scene quite amusing and distracting and was able to reassure them that I was neither insulted nor upset by his outbursts. That was true right up until he threatened "to pull a Loughner on you."
At first, I wasn't sure I heard it right. That notion was quickly dispelled when the Tucson police officer who'd been called to the scene felt the need to repeat it... and repeat it... and repeat it again in ever louder and clearer tones. By the second repetition, I was out of the chair. By the third time, I was out in the hallway, up in his face, yelling that I'd been shot by that name and that I didn't need to hear it over and over again and would they please just stop it. The officer was flummoxed - should he arrest me or apologize? Through my tears, all I could do was rant.
G'ma's nurse was the same kind man who flew with me in the Medevac helicopter from the Safeway to that same trauma unit. He was also the screamer's nurse. When he was able to extricate himself from the room next door, I found him in our bay, teary and arms out for hugs. We held one another and PTSD'ed together. Somehow, a social worker had appeared and I watched her watch us as we embraced. There's no privacy in a hospital under the best of circumstances; sharing the rage/sorrow/fear/anger with a total stranger didn't feel odd at all.
After fourteen hours in Emergency, a clean room was found and up we went... to Diamond 2 North... four doors down the hall from my room... room 1, the tech who helped me shower reminded me. It was like old home week, only weirder. It didn't make me feel anxious... or so I thought until I noticed my heart beating harder and faster than it had been downstairs. I didn't spend the night; I went home to TBG and my own bed. G'ma didn't notice, or remember.
Taking care of myself is the hardest part of this.
And now, she's in surgery. They'll fix the bone with a plate and screws and hope that it doesn't interfere with the hip replacement above it. Should that seem loose, the simple operation becomes much more complex. I'm hoping for the best and preparing for the worst and typing to you to distract myself from the various permutations of complications and confusions and planning that might need to be done. There's no sense wasting energy on that until I have the facts.
Instead, I hold out hope that the anesthesia won't damage her brain and her memory any more than it already has. She was so much less than herself after her hip replacement... and her back surgery... and I'm just not willing to lose any more of her than I have already. It's too bad that wishing can't make it so.
My siblings and my kids and my nieces and nephew are in my phone and grouped together for communication. They send me smiles and encouragement across the miles. JannyLou offered to sit with me, but I turned her down. Some things are easier to bear alone... except that I am not alone, am I? You are out there, in Los Angeles and Foxboro and Granger and Chicago and Maryland and in the Pacific Northwest. I'm sharing with you and you are there.
You are just there... and I'm grateful.
I realized that it would be unfair not to share: the surgery was uneventful and the anesthesia as light as possible and I left her smiling in her sleep. We will plan tomorrow. Tonight, we're going to rest.