Today started out as any other. Isn’t that how they usually start?
I woke up (maybe a tad earlier than usual), put on some work out clothes that were also acceptable to be seen in public in (long yoga pants, vans, stripped tank, blue american apparel hoodie, hair in a pony tail with a headband keeping the bangs from going crazy) put on some make up, ate some breakfast and headed to my grandparents’ house.
Yesterday I went over to take them both to get their blood drawn and then I sorted my grandpa’s pills for him (he has so many and the doctors keep changing them), and while we were at the doc’s office waiting for them each to see the nurse, grandpa sat down in a chair by the wall and hit his funny bone pretty hard on a shelf holding magazines. His skin tears really, really easily and he’s on a blood thinner so any injury is bandage worthy. The nurses bandaged him all up real good and they took his blood and her blood and we went on our way back to their house.
Today I was scheduled to take grandpa back to the doctor’s office for another blood test, this one with him fasting. There are times where in your head you wonder if certain things are a smart idea and this was definitely one of those times. Grandpa has been in and out of the hospital a few times this year for falling due to lack of strength, cracks in curbs or slippery socks. It’s been a trying year for my grandma, my mother and the rest of that side of my family.
So lately, I’ve been helping them out (and they have been lending me their extra car) by sorting pills, or running errands or driving grandma around when she doesn’t feel up to driving…
Today I asked Grandpa how he’s feeling when I arrived. Yesterday he was feeling winded and shakey. Today he said he was feeling pretty good which made me happy. I was going on a solo mission with him to the doctor’s office and I am not in any way shape or form strong enough to hold him or help him get up from a sitting (or any other position).
We head out and grandma closes and locks the door behind us and as we are walking on the path to the car I see his feet moving oddly. I asked him how it was going and he said not good and by the time I was able to get in front of him and hold his walker he was on his way to meet the ground.
I feel like poop. I want to say another word but I refrain from cussing here.
I saw his feet stumbling a little and I should have gotten in front of the walker before he had pushed himself to the downward slope of the driveway, I just didn’t catch it in time. I’m thankful I caught it at all. And I’m kind of thankful it was right by the car.
He fell. He slid to the side of his walker and broke his fall with his shoulder and ribs. I immediately ran back to the door to knock on it and then ran back to grandpa and called 911. I knew the drill even though I had never been present for it before.
From across the street a man came running over to see if he could help me at all. I didn’t want to move grandpa, I know how these things go (again, not from practice, just from tv shows and grandpa’s other gory stories) and thought letting the paramedics deal with it was the best bet. But I was thankful for that man’s company, he kept light but inquiring conversation with grandpa while I called for a paramedic.
I admit, I stumbled a bit calling 911. I was fighting with the lock on my phone and then realized I could press the emergency call button and then when that didn’t do what I wanted, I managed to punch 911. They answered immediately, I was a little shocked by that (which wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, but somewhere in there) and I had to tell them what happened and the address.
Luckily my grandma was out of the house by this time and she’s really use to this so she knew better than I how to handle him and the situation.
While on the phone the paramedics that I was transferred to asked me a couple of questions, I am so thankful and lucky that he was conscious and lucid. I don’t know if I’ve made this confession here before, but I’ll make it now…
I have a phobia of throw up/vomit.
I go into panic attacks if I think I might be getting sick. I get anxiety if I find out I was around someone who then even a couple of days after ends up throwing up. If someone starts throwing up around me I either get as far away as possible, or if I can’t curl up into a ball, plug my ears (my fingers as far in the ear canals as possible) and start humming. I wish I was joking. I have relaxed a bit in my issues, if I can determine the person who had thrown up wasn’t contagious I don’t worry for three days I still can’t be around the act.
So back to the phone call, they ask how bad he is bleeding and if he has hit his head… he didn’t hit his head as far as I remembered because he was holding his head up as he fell and when he fell and he kept testing his hurt shoulder which I kept asking him not to (in a very nice and calm way) telling him the paramedics would be there soon to check him out.
When the man on the phone found out he was bleeding he told me he wanted me to try and stop it, he might have thought I was a sissy because I stumbled with my answer there, but luckily we found out that for me to stop the bleeding I would have to get a towel and that would require me going inside and not being able to keep an eye on him, which, in all honesty, would have been a bit of a relief after the next thing he said…
Paramedic told me to watch him so long as the blood wasn’t pouring out he would be fine. He then told me to watch to see if grandpa lost consciousness and… if he started vomiting to roll him on his side.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
I was so good until then. And even then, to the guy on the phone, I didn’t want to seem like the brat of a granddaughter that wouldn’t make sure her grandpa didn’t die by choking. But I was really wondering what I was going to do if anything came to that point.
Luckily it didn’t.
Minutes after I hung up with the paramedic the firetruck came around the corner… I told them that he was on blood thinners and they wanted to make sure, over and over that he didn’t hit his head and I told them, from what I could remember, he didn’t. He also said he hadn’t. Small fact, if you are on blood thinners, it’s really, really dangerous to hit your head.
Learn something new every day.
I talked to the head firefighter while the paramedics and other firemen took care of my grandpa on the ground. I have to say, until now, almost 12 hours later, I didn’t feel much more than a normal amount of anxiety. Now, as I type this, it gets a little more real. It sucks.
My grandpa was always such a strong man. Until he broke his hip when I was in middle school he was always outside gardening or walking their dog of the time. He was always fiddling with sprinklers that weren’t working right or crafting up something else.
He was the man that helped me make a dolphin out of a piece of extra wood, he was the man that showed me where the strawberries were growing in at the house in Palm Desert, he was the man that hung different bird feeders and watched the birds with me at 6am when no one else was awake.
Grandpa is but a shadow of his former self. His body still looks relatively the same, maybe some new bumps, bruises and cuts, but altogether very similar. Piece by piece, bit by bit things are failing him though. It is really hard to see a man, once so active, healthy and sometimes even happy, reduced to an old, gray shell constantly in his chair, needing a walker to get to the bathroom.
There’s nothing to be done by me other than continuing to help with his pills as well as helping grandma with errands and such, but sometimes I still feel frustrated and helpless.
I can’t imagine life without grandpa, but this really isn’t grandpa anymore.
So the paramedics loaded him into the ambulance, the firefighters said goodbye after cleaning the blood off of the cement and grandma and I went back inside to sit before figuring out where to go to meet up with him. Finally, after all had left, the garage door had closed and we had sat down grandma started to cry. It wasn’t a long cry, as I said, she’s use to this kind of thing, but there was sorrow.
I often wonder if there is any love left between those two but the way she takes care of him, even after all the complaining, it’s pretty obvious that she loved him, and if nothing else she still cares about him deeply now.
Last we heard tonight, grandpa has two fractured, but not separated, ribs and is in the worst pain yet. That’s saying a lot and makes me feel even worse… he once went to the hospital after falling on his face and breaking his two front teeth… THIS time was more painful?!
You just wish you were stronger, or you caught it sooner, or if he had asked for a little help or something… I don’t know if I did something completely wrong, I really don’t know. But what happened happened and I hope we find a way to really, totally, keep this from happening any more.
I really have no summary or anything to end this post. Just maybe thanks that it wasn’t worse and that there was someone to rush to our aid even if there was nothing he could do.