Writer's Workshop: Role Reversal

Prompt: Something you learned this week.

     Something happened last Monday night/Tuesday morning. I was dragged from sleep by the telephone and I was told I needed to come take my mother to the hospital by my mother's neighbor. He told me that she had fallen and that her wrist was definitely broken and maybe more. He told me to hurry, she was hurt badly and did I understand? It turns out I didn't; I didn't understand what this would mean at all.
     Most of Tuesday is a blur. I got to my mother's apartment and found that her neighbor, a young man whose name I still don't know, had carried her to her car and was sitting with her. As I approached the car he said not to be shocked but it was hard not to be. My mom was cradling her twisted and deformed looking wrist and crying. Crying harder than I'd ever seen her cry before. I think that her crying was harder to witness than the wrist.

     I drove her to the hospital, going much too slowly but every bump or bend in the road elicited another whimper, another sharp intake of breath, another moan.

My mom is often my "photo assistant" when I'm wrangling my own kids for a photo shoot.
Otherwise, I'd never get a decent picture of them....

     When we arrived nurses helped her out of the car and she was whisked away to the ER while I parked the car. I wasn't allowed to see her until I filled out all the paperwork and answered a bunch of questions. I did all of it in a fog, realizing very quickly, that I didn't know the answers to questions, that for some reason, everyone thought I should. I didn't know the year my mother was born or her social security number. I was uncertain of her PO Box number, even though I'm the one that checks her mail ninety percent of the time.
      By the time I got back to see her, an IV was placed and she was waiting for the nurse to return with some morphine. We waited for what seemed like just shy of forever; I'm sure it was longer for my mom. X-rays confirmed that her left wrist was shattered and that her right shoulder was broken. Morphine allowed for the x-rays to be taken at all. Another dose allowed them to wrap my mom's wrist and shoulder, strapping them both in front of her like an Egyptian mummy. We were then issued discharge papers.
     It all of a sudden dawned on me, that sometime between midnight and one o'clock, my role in this parent/child relationship changed. I was now going to have to take her home and care for her. Ultimately, I've always accepted that I, as eldest child and only daughter, would be responsible for my aging parents' care but I didn't know it would be this soon and I found myself completely unprepared. More so, I was terrified and angry.
     I convinced the doctor that I couldn't take her home, which wasn't that hard. The idea of trying to get her up a flight and a half of stairs to the only bathroom in my split-level home OR across a gravel parking lot, up a couple of stairs and across 100 feet of uneven decking didn't sound like a possible feat to the doctor, so she was admitted.
     The next day dawned and the morphine turned my usually kind and considerate mother into a mean and crazed person, who was sure that her doctors, and even me were trying to kill her. She said hateful and hurtful things for nearly three days while the morphine worked its way out of her system.
     A week later, we are still trying to determine the extent of her injuries. Her left wrist was badly broken and required surgery and external pins and bracing; her left knee is also broken and requires a leg brace. Her right shoulder is fractured and may need surgery yet. The shock of the injuries caused her kidneys to fail, which, in turn, triggered a minor heart attack. She will need further testing to know if her heart was damaged or not and all of this time lying down has caused a pneumonia in her right lung to form.

     I always assumed that I would be responsible for my parents' care, when they got older but I now I know that I'm not ready for that inevitability; I don't know if I ever will be. Learning that about myself terrifies me. I always thought that I would handle my parents' aging well, but now all I want is to run, crying to my mother.

Epilogue: This was written off and on over the last week. Currently, my mother's kidney function has nearly returned to normal although it will continue to be monitored. She is still in a great deal of pain and the doctors' struggle with her pain management and keeping her blood pressure down. Her blood pressure is out of control (205/51) and the thing we are most concerned with. The orthopedic team has yet to decide whether they will operate on my mom's shoulder but the cardiac team has decided that a heart catheter is needed to determine if she will need surgery in the future. She has yet to be released from the hospital but when she does she will need to stay in a rehab facility for several weeks. 

Peace Out!
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