Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Dislocated Hip?

Something made me check the missed calls section of the answering machine on the home phone yesterday.  I know, I know, it dates me that I still have a land line and an answering machine... but I do, and I use them,.

I'm still wondering what made me check back and see who hadn't left a message.  Most of the blank spaces on the machine's tape have been from political robo-calls which recognize the mechanized beep and fail to leave a message.  Those are not calls which need to be heard, let alone recorded.  Why I thought there might be something worthwhile hiding in there remains a mystery, and yet there it was.

There was a missed call from the pod castle. I dialed the number, and wondered if anyone knew why a call had been made to my house. In fact, she did.  Without skipping a beat, the worker bee informed me that G'ma had a dislocated hip. They had faxed the doctor but he hadn't called them back. They were just letting me know.

Frantic doesn't come close to what I felt.  A dislocated hip means pain and no ambulation nor comfort in any position.  It means surgery and hospitals and anesthesia and that's just not good for an elderly woman with dementia issues.  It means my mommy didn't feel well and I was sad.

Then, there was the furious part.  Why hadn't they left a message?  What was their long term plan?  Was my mother in agony in her apartment, not wanting to ask for pain relief?  Did they remember to give her an analgesic even if she didn't ask?  Did anyone recall that she never complains, that a wince from her is the equivalent of a shriek from anyone else?  Did anyone care?

TBG calmed me down.  Hollering wouldn't do any good, wouldn't solve any problems, wouldn't resolve the situation.  It might make me feel better by tapping into that Daddooooo piece of me which requires loud noises and much tumult in order to create a solution.  It's not functional, but it's comfortable.  

My more stoic mid-western husband assured me that I could get the message across without screeching.  I practiced lowering my voice several octaves, then I called back and tried to find some facts.  No, no one knew who had made the call.  No one knew why a message hadn't been left.  No one had called the doctor to follow up on the fax.  No one had any idea if she had fallen or bumped herself.

Unknown origin does nothing to make me feel happy.

A lengthy conversation with the Executive Director found her squarely on my side.  Yes, a message should have been left.  Yes, pain relief should have been offered.  Yes, someone should have some idea about why my mother hurts.  The fact that an in-home visit from the physician costs $275, most of which is non-reimbursable, was considered from all angles.  I'm here and they know that.  A medical appointment is an outing for my  mom and me; we fold in lunch and a stop at Walgreens for Hershey's Kisses and I take the long way around so that she can admire the mountains.  We didn't need a home visit; we needed to talk to the physician and make a plan.

I zoomed down the road and into the parking lot; I was in her apartment less than thirty minutes after I found the missed call.  She was, as always, in her electric recliner, watching TNT and eating chocolate.  She was glad to see me.

When I asked for a status report on her hip, she looked puzzled.
"Does it hurt?"

"Is it supposed to hurt?"
Such is her life.  She shifted in her seat, lifting one butt cheek and then the other, wincing when something didn't feel right.  "I know it's there," was her personal diagnosis.  From G'ma, that statement is tantamount to a scream.

I sat and worried and went over her absentee ballot and worried and talked to the Executive Director in person and I worried and then I watched her walk to the bathroom, reassured by the fact that she was moving as fluidly as she ever has... which isn't all that graceful but it gets the job done... and then I drove home and worried some more.

We didn't hear from the doctor. I was on the phone just after 9, and had an annoying conversation with the receptionist who kept telling me that with a dislocated hip my mother would need an ambulette to get to the office or the x-ray facility.  I kept reminding her that the diagnosis came from a girl with a high school diploma and a 3 month CNA certificate; it was not definitive.  It couldn't be, since she was walking and sitting and bending, albeit with discomfort.

Did the doctor want to see her?  No, I did not want her to send the doctor or the physician's assistant to the facility.  I could get her to the office, we could save the money, it would be an outing.... she wasn't hearing it at all.  The conversation dead ended at the need for an x-ray; they would be happy to send the portable machine out to the facility this afternoon, there was no reason for me to come by and pick up a prescription and drag my mother and her achy hip into the lab.

At that point, I was beaten.  I am sure that the portable x-ray is much more expensive than the x-ray she'd have gotten at the lab, but the doctor's office was pushing the stay-at-home method and I had plans for the afternoon and I was just so tired of arguing.  I gave in.

As I type, the machine is taking a picture of my mother's pelvis and the assorted bones and tendons and ligaments attached thereto.  If it's something really awful they will call the doctor immediately.  Otherwise, they'll call me when they get the report.

That's not very helpful.  That's not very thoughtful.  That is what it is.

G'ma's problem is that she is old.  Her parts are wearing out.  Her horizons are diminishing.  She still laughs about not remembering Little Cuter's wedding, but she's sure she had a great time.  My mantra remains the same: No Unhappy Days.

That works, for her at least.  Me?  I'm still frantic and anxious and plan-less. Gathering facts takes time.  I don't want to wait.  I want my mother to feel fine and to get around on her own and I don't want anything to interfere with that.

As Mick sings, though, you can't always get what you want.


  1. Going through old, old age with our parents is tough-- not the least of which is we know it'll someday be us. I hope this all worked out okay and no big health issues to deal with this time.

  2. I recall my mom growing older and getting sick with various ailments, and I was 330 miles away, with a company to run and a family to take care of. It was a terrible feeling. As an only child, I had to leave nearly all of her care to my dad, who was 80. He weathered it very well, and then six years after she passed, he remarried. (yes, he was 86). Be glad you are near enough to see to her care.

    Will you be at the sentencing tomorrow? I just heard that the Giffords would be.

  3. Oh God, when it rains. I hope she is doing better and you get through this week in okay shape yourself. Hugs.


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