Angry Robot

Something Important Happened 4

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

You fell. Two weeks later you fell again. But no one told my mom, so when she got in, she tried to get you out of your chair to bring you to the bathroom. You screamed in pain, then told her, “something important happened!”

It was a Tuesday. You had gotten up in the middle of the night, as you liked to. A caregiver came in to see you shaky in the middle of the room. You fell and she managed to protect your head, but you banged your hip and knee.

My mom asked one of the home officials if they would not do an x-ray, and he said the physiotherapist had examined you and you were fine. He moved your leg and said, “see? He’s fine.” Nonetheless my mom discovered she could insist on an x-ray. They said they would do it the next day at 2:30. She got there at 2 and they told her they had done it at 8am. They had only x-rayed your knee. It was fine.

My mom grew angry and told them they needed to do your hip. They said the doctor would examine him and see if it was necessary. But the doctor would not be in for a couple of days.

You were out of it now. You weren’t eating well for the first time in ages. When you had to be taken to the bathroom, we had to use an elaborate machine – kind of a crane for seniors. It hurt to look at this thing, to see your delicate sleeping frame being hauled like goods.

When the doctor did see you, it was the following Wednesday. She said you needed a hip x-ray. The machine was brought in the following day and it showed you had a broken hip.

You were taken to Sunnybrook hospital. They said they could operate and fix your hip, but if it had been a couple days later, they couldn’t have done it. If they did the operation, you might regain your previous mobility. If they didn’t, you’d never walk again. We decided you should get the operation.

Both your daughters came up, Heather and Alyssa. You were not conscious enough to respond to any of us. I took time off work. I would sit next to your bed and talk to you, but the only glimpses I got were the hint of a smile now and then.

The operation happened extremely late at night. We were there, waiting all day for it to happen. Finally they took you down. We followed, not knowing what to do with ourselves. One of the doctors came out and asked for us – you had become agitated as they moved you to the operating table. But finally it was done. We were told it could take hours and there was no point in staying, so we went home.

The next day we came in to find the operation had been a success. We waited for you to come to. Heather had to return to the states for her work. We waited the next day, and still you slept. The following day your breathing became laboured and your vitals got worse. They said you may have contracted pneumonia. We told Heather and she came back the following day.

The hip doctors had done their thing, and said you were now in the hands of the geriatrics. We waited for a visit from them. In the meantime we got a visit from another doctor. He introduced the idea of palliative care. You might very well recover, he said, but to some level below your previous baseline. And 50% of hip fractures over the age of 70 die within the year – it’s a sign of the body’s fundamental weakness. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Would your father want to live like this?”

I became angry. This was so obviously a speech he had given many times before, and his empathy was so manufactured. And how could we suddenly turn around and give up on you, after we had gone through all this? But at the same time the reasoning rang true. I felt like I was lost in a forest, and had just gotten my bearings to discover I was much further away from home than I thought. I might be angry about it, but it didn’t make me any closer to home.