I know I’m a tough customer. I try to dial it back normally. PBE is the one place where I can rage on. And rage I do.
I got it from my mother. She is a tough customer, and unyielding. In her working life she was an RN having graduated from Columbia University. That Columbia University. Eisenhower himself signed her diploma. There used to be a standard of care that they taught and she took that very seriously. It was 1950.
She quit working when I came along and did not go back to work until my brother was 7 years old. On one hand I’d like to think that’s why we both never got into any real trouble. On the other I know that’s why we are both so unyielding. And do not suffer fools lightly. There were standards and they had to be met. Period. It had nothing to do with keeping up with the Joneses. She hated the Joneses. It had to do with the fact that we were better than that. And the Joneses were idiots anyway.
Sunday she fell and broke her hip. It is a bad break. They can’t fix it so they are going to replace it. I have no recollection of her ever being in the hospital. I am relatively certain that is because she has not been in a hospital since she brought my brother into the world in 1961. She broke a toe, stumping it on the coffee table in the 60′s and she had an ear infection. Other than that, disease fears her. And at times, so do I.
I got the call from her neighbor that the ambulance was at her house and they were taking her. She’d fallen. I thought she had gotten one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up things”, apparently not. Thankfully her neighbor was home, had a key and was able to let the firemen in, after locking up her Doberman. I turned on her street in time to see the ambulance leaving. I flipped a U and followed them to the hospital. The paramedics were sweet and kind to her. The woman took a special interest in my mother.
I spent the next five hours in the ER watching people come in and out of her room and not really solving a single problem. She was in tremendous pain. It took nearly four hours to get her the second dosage of pain medication. It was ordered within 30 minutes of her arrival and took another three and a half hours to deliver. I am thankful for Luke and the “hardest working guy in the building”. Those guys stepped up and took the reins after hours of others coming in and out of the room and not ever doing anything. And the dude who was working outside her door, saw there was an issue, gathered up enough staff to fix it and fixed the problem. I hadn’t seen him earlier, but finally five hours later, he did what needed to be done. He was efficient, helpful and had great bedside manner. It’s good to know that people like these three guys exist in this world. It’s what she would have done when she was a nurse. Of course she would have never let it get to five hours in the first place.
After I left at 1am they apparently gave her another load of morphine. For future reference, not a good idea. At 5:47 my phone rang. It was her. I had to come down there, “these people are crazy”. Can you just tell me what’s going on? “No, you have to come down here.” After I left at 1am, I went to my house, let my dogs out, put up the BMW, got the keys to her house and went over there with my truck and collected Duke and her purse, glasses and wedding ring. I was exhausted and forgot his food, his medication and my father’s wedding ring. I knew everyone in the complex had seen the old girl leave in the meat wagon and I knew the house was now vulnerable. They can take the tv, but if we lose another load of family heirlooms and sentimental shit, I’m going to just start icing known thieves. At random, because I hate thieves anyway. And after all, this town is small enough that we do know who they are.
Any who, I had an appointment yesterday so I had to get dressed. “Mom, I need an hour and a half to get out of the house this morning”. OK, but hurry up. OK Mom, I didn’t need more than three hours and 17 minutes of sleep anyway. I got there and she was confused on the morphine. Really confused. She couldn’t put together why it was so important to call me and have me come down there. As the day progressed it got worse. My brother took second shift and it got even more adventuresome. Finally when he got back from grabbing a sandwich she said “They called the cops on me, you have to get out of here before the cops get here. It will hurt your reputation as a lawyer”. He talked to her nurse who hadn’t called the cops. The morphine called the cops. It’s got to be scary to be that confused. Especially when on a very base level you know what’s supposed to be happening but your brain is scrambling up the timelines, the people’s names and roles. She did seem consistent in her knowledge that our father was gone. When asked about advance directives she didn’t care, her husband was waiting for her on the other side and she was fine with that.
When I took over yesterday afternoon she was finally sleeping soundly. She’s been up for nearly 30 hours, high as a kite on morphine and other drugs. Hallucinating, having OCD moments, running us all in circles. She told my brother she wanted the gauze protecting her IV gone. What he didn’t know was she beat the previous night’s staff to put that on there in the first place. She had me take her socks home only to complain that her feet were cold and she needed socks. And she was nearly completely immobile. The break is severe. I want to go home. You can’t your hip is broke. I know. Where are we? The hospital. Why are we here? Your hip is broke. I know.
Hopefully today Santa stopped by Kaiser and my mother will be getting a new hip. It’s hard to watch a woman as powerful as she was to be this derailed. NORAD said he came by earlier this morning. Hopefully he had a new titanium hip in his sack of toys.