Vivian is All of Us, We Are All Vivian
I think I have this problem where if I am in crisis, I don't want to blog about it until the crisis is resolved and I can tie it up in a single post with a witty bow on it. I am aware anyway that this is not really how life or blogging really works, but never has this been more apparent than in the past few months. Apart from the little fires of parenting and being the child of aging parents, there's -- *gestures broadly at everything* -- so, here I am, in varying degrees of varying crises, to share some fragmented thoughts and stories, with the caveat that my family tends to deal with grief and stress by deploying inappropriate humour, and not everyone finds us as charming and hilarious as we find ourselves.
So my dad fell down a few stairs while trying to put away the vacuum cleaner (like I always say, housework is ass, don't do it, it's dangerous). He couldn't put any weight on his right leg, and my mom was scared he'd broken his hip. He has back pain issues so, although he still goes grocery shopping and does other errands (as long as he can lean on the grocery cart he's okay), any other kind of walking or standing causes him a lot of pain. This means he's lost a lot of strength and mobility, so we were pretty worried. My husband and I went over to hang out while he waiting for the ambulance, on the floor in the entrance. One of the paramedics looked about his age (he just turned 80), but was calm, competent and funny - he told this joke about NASCAR standing for Non-Athletic-Sport-Centered-Around-Rednecks and also told us about that joke not going over well with a retired police officer he was treating. Just before they closed the doors of the ambulance, as I was heading to my car to go to the hospital, I yelled "hey Dad, Mom says you fucked up happy hour", and they laughed.
At this point, Covid didn't affect our hospital experience a whole lot. I went and waited in the waiting room for about an hour and a half, then asked if they were going to let me see him or if I could just drop off some stuff for him. They let me go back and see him, but after about twenty minutes someone came to take him to x-ray, so they told me to go home and wait for a call saying what they'd found. So I did. Thankfully, this time he had a cellphone with him and I brought him a portable charger, so we were already miles ahead of last time.
I came home, and within the next few hours we were told that he didn't have a hip fracture, which was awesome, and that he did have a hairline fracture in his femur, which was not, but still, no surgery and he could probably come home soon. We waited and waited and finally got the call to come pick him up at 11:30. We were overjoyed. This was very stupid of us on a number of levels.
So we got there around midnight and my husband parked in the parking lot and I went in to emerg to get him. Of course, the ortho guy had to sign off on him leaving, and this took three more hours. So we sat - him on his bed leaning on his walker, me in a chair. Around three, the guy showed up - he was actually very apologetic for being so late, which I didn't expect or require. Waiting is just what you do in hospitals. Then I realized that we were taking my father home at three in the morning with no walker, with a cracked pelvis. How the fuck did we think we were going to handle this?
The whole process of getting him up the driveway and up the stairs into the house, and up the stairs from the entrance, and over to the living room couch, where he would spend the night, was an odyssey unto itself. We found a stool with handles that he used kind of like a walker. We had a wooden chair with arms that he could rest in every few steps. It was terrible, but we managed it. We got him settled and went home to sleep for a few hours before going back to see if we could get him up the stairs to the second floor where he could stay for a few weeks and recover.
Then the shit hit the fan in a whole different way, but back to sitting in the emergency room limbo, waiting for the ortho doc. It's basically a constellation of beds surrounding a nucleus of nurses and doctors at a cluster of desks in the center. At one point a man a few beds down came out of his cubicle with no shirt on. A nurse said "why aren't you dressed?" and he said "I can't find my clothes!' She said "no, your gown". He said "I'm going home now" and the nurse said "not quite yet". He said "it was a VERY RELIABLE SOURCE that told me I'm going home now." Beside us was an older woman who had actually broken her hip, and sounded like she had pretty advanced dementia. Her granddaughter was with her for a while and then left. It was sort of sad listening to her and the lack of privacy was upsetting - I shouldn't have known that her name was Vivian, but now I do. The nurse kept telling her that she was there because she'd broken her hip and said "you're sundowning" sympathetically. I did admire, though, how done Vivian was with everyone's bullshit. "You're in the hospital"; 'NO I AM NOT". "I WANT TO GO HOME" - at this point my dad was like, Girl, Same. Finally, one of the nurses asked her if her leg hurt and she said "No, I DIDN'T get a cookie."
I really hope Vivian is okay, and also I might adopt this as my universal answer to all questions going forward.