I was in a meeting at work when a friend walked in to tell me "your Grandma's in triage". ( To which half the room exclaimed "Nana? Oh no - she's constipated again?") These friends know Nana well since they got to spend my 18th anniversary with me and Nana in area C while I had her worked up yet again for belly pain only to find out that she doesn't take her Miralax like she should. For the record, this year's anniversary sucked on many levels, and the ER with constipated Nana was simply the cherry on top. Digression complete.
So I grab my stuff and go out to triage where I see Nana on a stretcher all Christmased out in her festive sweater, Christmas tree necklace and other assorted bling. She begins to cry when she sees me and I sense that this time, it is not constipation but something that is going to suck worse than Anniversary Belly Pain ever did. And I was right.
I peel back the blanket at the same time she is saying "I fell off the senior bus and it's not Steve's fault so don't you be mean to the people at the Senior Center because they made us spaghetti and I fell and it was my fault and I know you told me to make them help me off the bus and now you are mad at me I can tell by your face". I heard all this, but I didn't hear all this, because all I could see was a skinny little leg facing the wrong way and all I could think was Shit Shit Shit Shit. This, I thought, is going to change everything.
I took Nana to my work area trying to kill two birds with one stone: take care of Nana and my assigned team at the same time. I popped an IV into her arm and gave her some pain meds, drew the blood for the surgery I already knew was going to happen, whether she was 92 years old or not. I ran around taking care of my other patients, and blessedly, got tons of help from my coworkers who alternately entertained Nana and covered my patients when I was at Nana's bedside. Nurses, the ultimate multitaskers. Never underestimate us.
Xray showed that Nana had a broken left femoral head, and a bad one at that. I went with my attending doctor to tell her this in time for her to vomit up her spaghetti dinner that the Senior Center so lovingly prepared for her. After this event, I will not eat Chef Boy-ar-dee products. Ever. Anti nausea meds, more pain meds, more vomit, more vomit and finally the moment I am dreading the most. Call my Mother. My turn to vomit, but only in my mouth.
Let's recap: Fall. Break. Trauma. Vomit. Vomit. Vomit. Phone Call to Sandra.
Now let's add: Drama.
Me: Hey Mom.
Sandra: Oh my God I am so tired I am never going to get packed and your father...
Me: Mom. Nana broke her hip, she is here with me.
Sandra: Expletive Expletive Expletive. I am coming up there. No one is going to say I didn't come help her. Click.
So the nice orthopaedic resident that everyone has a crush on goes to talk to Nana. Nana says "Well, you are a nice boy. Do you work with Bill?" Because in a hospital that employs over 10,000 people, Nana assumes that everyone knows me or Bill. But alas, Dr. Pifer endears me for life by saying "No, I work with your amazing Granddaughter; Kim". And Nana says, "Well, then you must be real good". And pats his hand. Nana may have a broken hip, but she can still work the floor.
Surgery is explained and goes in one hearing aid and out the other. I close out my team and drive Nana to her room on the 9th floor. As Karma would dictate, Nana's room is at the furthermost point of the hospital from where I work. I help get her settled in and my Mother takes her post in the chair in the corner, muttering things I don't care to listen to, as her attitude with Nana is about as joyful as a Bin Laden video.
Nana spends her first night flat on her back, refusing pain meds since they make her throw up. Which doesn't stop her from continuing to throw up. My Mother ends up joining the ranks of spaghetti haters, too. 23 hours after her fall she is finally taken to surgery, where an equally handsome Orthopaedic surgeon puts a new femoral head on Nana's femur. This takes one hour, long enough for me to fall asleep in a drooling mess on the waiting room chair. My mother delights in telling me to wipe my mouth as the cute Surgeon comes out to give us report. I listen to how well it all went and I fall back asleep until I am told Nana is in her room.
The saddest thing I have seen in a long time is my tiny little Nana in the big white bed, matching it in color since her hemoglobin is down to 7 and she needs blood. She looks old and frail and lost and frightened and I want to cry. And that's where we are folks. Four days post op, two blood transfusions, a couple clueless nurses and a bunch of nice ones. Nana is up to the bathroom with a walker and having physical therapy twice a day. She is pissed because they make her eat protein all the time. She is starting to realize the enormity of the situation. I can't tell if she is confused from pain meds or if she has also had a stroke, so I count the days til I can evaluate her from a drug free perspective. My mother is stepping up and standing guard, although I know in the end when the novelty wears off and we are thick into rehab, this will be my baby. I think of my fall last February, of lying on the cold ground wondering if I could get up. I think of Nana in the cold waiting for an ambulance. My old lady hip still hurts me. But far and above that; Nana's hip can kill her. Please fight Nana. This is not how I want it to end.