Thursday, May 3, 2012

And So We Wait...

The call I have dreaded, yet halfway expected, came Monday evening around 11:15, when the RN for the ALF notified me that Mam-ma Polly had fallen in her room, and her w lords to the aide on duty were, "I think my hip is broken."  An ambulance had been summoned, and the nurse said, "We're not moving her until the EMTs arrive, and they will do the minimum necessary to get her on a gurney and transport her."  She told me they hoped it was only a deep bruise, and we would return to the ALF and start therapy.  However, if it were broken, we were looking at immediate transport to Little Rock to another hospital.  "So gas up your car and get ready," she admonished me.

We arrived in the ER, where my favorite attending physician and nurse were on duty... answered prayer #1.  Dr. Bottorff took one look at her and said, "I'd be willing to bet it's broken - one leg appears to be much shorter than the other.  He was right... and the x-ray he showed me was astounding.  Mam-ma snapped her femur just below the ball and socket, leaving a sharp shard pointing downward, and jutting her femur (which resembled a spear) up above her hip ball and socket.  Thankfully, there is a surgeon on staff, and the ER staff admitted her to the hospital and placed her leg in traction to hopefully pull the leg bone back down into place and give her some relief.

We discussed the options, and the surgeon and hospitalist both told me that surgery was the only option... and they felt that Mam-ma was physically a good candidate.  To let her lie and heal without surgery would be risky, painful, and basically not an option.  So Monday afternoon around 3:30, Mam-ma was wheeled to the OR, where the leg was repositioned, and a rod was inserted and screwed into her leg near the hip ball and the knee.

Since then, we have been working on controlling her pain and getting her up; however, she has only sat up twice since surgery, and she cannot "walk" at all... cannot even move her "good" leg with prompting.  I am not certain at this point how much longer we will be in the hospital... the nurses say through this weekend... today's hospitalist just said she would go to the skilled care nursing facility as soon as tomorrow.  He was very pessimistic about her walking and recovering.  He did say IF her mind is clear (it is - or was) and she was mobile before (she was), she has a better chance of recovering... but he was still not encouraging.

The surgeon admonished me that "in the next three years, the fatality rate for hip surgery is as high as 50%, due to complications."  As one dear friend - and Hospice nurse - told me on Tuesday morning, "this may be the beginning of the end."  The worst is watching Mam-ma suffer.  She cries out almost constantly in pain.  Yet when you ask, "Are you hurting?" she replies, "No!"  However, the furrowed brow and her cries from her "sleep" belie this.

Meanwhile, my sister and I have been hospital sitting.  My husband was with me for the ER portion and much of the next day, and he is tremendous support.  I have already gained a reputation as a "bulldog" at the nurses' desk... one that doesn't bother me in the least.  I am looking out for my Mam-ma, and I will never apologize for that.  We have wonderful nursing care; however, things happen, and already I have been reminded how important it is to have someone overseeing things at all times.  We have not stayed with my grandmother overnight, but we have tucked her in each evening, and I am about two minutes from the hospital, with phone numbers and other info posted on her white board.  I don't know what lies ahead when we transfer to the skilled care facility.  I figure I am going to have to do a lot of monitoring... but also a lot of trusting.  I must remember to pace myself.  Thankfully, I have lots of loving folks who will remind me of this!

The nurses are gently telling us that Mam-ma probably won't get out of bed much, based on the "progress" these two days... that we most likely are looking at a permanent move to skilled care nursing, with possible "sit-up" sessions in a bedside chair or for the toilet. We know this is out of our hands... and beyond our control... but we know that Someone is completely in charge, and we are trusting His outcome. And so we wait.


Journeyin' Lady... said...

A sad time. . .praying for the best for Mam-ma.

Mark said...

What a nasty break. Sadly, I was wondering with my wife how much longer a person your Mam-ma's age usually survives after such a fall. I hope she at least gets some comfort befoe this is all over, whatever the outcome.