Looking back about 6 years, the day started normally, going to work on a gorgeous summer morning, taking the back country roads that I like to call the scenic route. During the work day, I received a phone call from someone named Linda. She told me that she was the apartment manager in California where my mother lived and that she had fallen, broken her hip and rushed to the hospital after being found on the floor of her apartment, screaming for help. Not knowing exactly how to handle this situation from across the country, I asked for her opinion on what to do. She advised me to call the hospital to find out the status of what was going on and then make a decision on what to do. What she did offer, was to never let her get into the CA state system.
So, with that I called Scripts hospital in San Diego, CA and found that she had indeed broken her hip and needed a replacement. There was nothing that I could do now as she needed surgery and I was to call later that morning. She pulled through surgery with her new hip but after a few days in the hospital, it became clear that she was a sundowner, something that often happens to the elderly after anesthesia in turn expediting the onset of dementia. Not knowing that at the time, I couldn’t understand what was happening when listening to her paranoia and hostility on the phone. Apparently, she was giving everyone in the hospital a hard time, mostly towards the end of the day, making it very hard to provide her daily care. To compound the situation, she also suffers from a lifetime disorder called OCD which made her care even more challenging.
Still not knowing how to respond or proceed, I called my step-brother Dwight who lives in CA with his wife Aggie. He agreed to go down to San Diego and check out the reality of the situation and look for respite places for Mom to recoup before I came out to accompany her back to my house in NY. He was my hero…he came down, filled me in on all the things that I needed to know, found a nice place for her to stay for a few weeks until she was able to fly, bought her a few little shmocks to wear in the hospital and rehab and then went home. Through him, I was able to understand that she was now a frail little shell of the woman that we remembered and that I shouldn’t be surprised when I see her. Mere understatement…leaving me still wondering, how did we get here?
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