No slices of fiction or poetry today, just stark reality. A year ago today, I was trying to do too much too fast and I took an epic tumble on the hardwood floor at my mother’s house. More concerned about how hard I’d hit my head, I ignored the pain in my elbow. I returned to my house and told Jim about my fall and assured him I was okay.m after all, we had to go to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for my mom. Then we were hosting my neighbor for cheese fondue. I delivered the groceries and returned home.
At that point my head felt fine but my elbow was beginning to hurt. Jim talked me into lying down while he prepped the fondue for me. Long story short, we had a successful cheese fondue despite my having to use my opposite hand to eat. After dinner I told Jim it was time to head to the ER. Splinted and medicated, we returned about 11 that night. I was so fortunate to have him there for a few more days to help me out.
In fact, my neighbor Rob, a retired nurse, came and showed me how to wrap the ace bandage around my splint. I’d broken my left elbow which for most people wouldn’t be a big issue. I’m left-handed. Honestly it was inconvenient but not as awful as my broken ankle or broken leg. Rob, and his husband Bill, would have me for dinner a few times so I wouldn’t have to cook.
Never did I think it would be a prelude to a very challenging time. Late afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving, I received the phone call that my mother was lying on the ground near her back steps. Somehow she had fallen. I arrived within ten minutes, just after EMS. To see her bloodied and in tremendous pain out there in the cold was a shock I still feel. She had broken her femur in four places. I spent Thanksgiving at the hospital while she had surgery. Again, Jim came to my rescue. I arrived home around 5 that evening. Jim had arrived from having Thanksgiving dinner at his son’s house. His son, Greg, sent along a complete dinner for me along with a piece of pie. Again, so much to be grateful for.
The ensuing months were a challenge. My mother went to a facility for rehabilitation. The big catch was that she could not bear weight on that leg for several weeks. She could only toe touch. The situation tested our patience. I won’t even get into the issues we had with the facility. With the exception of two days, I was there each day for two months. Again, Jim was a huge help and Greg sent along some Christmas dinner.
Finally, at the beginning of February, my mother was able to move to a facility for respite care. We knew she couldn’t go home because she lived in a two-story house with only a half bath on the ground floor. It also became clear that she might not ever go back to her home of over fifty years. But she would only agree to move to a condo like mine. The model I have is the most popular, seldom comes up for sale, and is snapped up in a nano-second. God was truly on my side because my neighbors Bill and Rob gave my name to a woman whom they met while out walking in the neighborhood. She was in town to relocate her mom…who lived in a condo model like mine. Long story short, we acquired the condo knowing we had to make some improvements in addition to then selling her house.
My mother was doing well in respite care. I picked her up to have Easter dinner at my house along with Jim. We had an early afternoon dinner and it was very good. But my mother and I both realized that Jim was not himself. He was very short of breath and just didn’t act right. After I returned my mom to her facility, I went home to find Jim really struggling to get his breath. I told him I was taking him to the hospital. He doesn’t live in this area, just comes up to visit me. But we have some wonderful hospitals here so I was confident.
Turns out Jim was in bad shape cardiologically speaking. He’d had a heart attack and by the next day had a catheterization and a pump inserted into his heart to help it beat. Within five days he had quintuple bypass surgery. I’m thankful that his children were also a big part of that journey. And one of my close friends was in town the day of his surgery and she spent the day with me at the hospital. I will never forget that.
Jim negotiated the surgery and recovery well. We were all stunned that he would be discharged home and did not qualify for a rehab facility. I was in the midst of wrapping up renovations and repairs on the new condo and getting my mother’s house ready to list. Thankfully Jim was able to stay at his son’s home for several weeks while he recovered from his surgery.
While he was recovering I spent most of June readying the condo and putting the house on the market. It sold quickly and by the end of the month, my mother was in her new condo. Jim was back at home but ended up in the hospital again close to where he lives, 90 miles south of here. This time his daughter was able to take him in while he recovered. My summer flew by helping my mother get settled. She is able to get around well with a walker. At this point she is still gaining strength and mobility and enjoying her new home. It is literally around the corner from mine so I’m able to pop over there easily. Jim is continuing to do well.
Though my mother and I are our only family, I am so thankful to have lots of wonderful supporters. My neighbor Linda, and her sweet dog, Skippy, helped me negotiate many a day in this past year. There’s a lot to be said for a kind word and a little pet therapy.
Some of my longtime friends were wonderful and kept track of me through phone calls, emails, and texts. A few other wonderful neighbors checked on me often. If someone had told me last October 16th what I would face in the coming year, I would have laughed hysterically. It’s been humbling, exhausting and very emotionally draining. I’m just glad to still be in one piece and working once again on my school district history project. I plan for the book to be out in the spring, unless more challenges come along. If they do, I will persist.