Because she cannot put any weight on her leg, she has had to scoot along on her bottom to get from the convertible couch in her office, where she's been sleeping since her fall, to the toilet. "It's nothing," she said. "Don't get all worked up about it."
But Dad must be exhausted taking care of you night and day, I protested. "It's fun," she said.
He sounds a little worn out, I said. "Oh, don't listen to him!" she said.
I told her I wanted to fly out right away so I could oversee her care. "No!" she said.
I wanted to call their best friend, the guy whose name I extracted from them the last time she disappeared into the emergency-care system. "No!"
I wanted to call her doctor, with whom I have been in occasional touch in the past. "No!"
I wanted to call a visiting-nurse practice to arrange a home visit. "No!"
I wanted to call the home-care agency to arrange additional household help to supplement the aide who has been coming two mornings a week since she cracked her pelvis. "No!"
My mother is not demented. My father is not demented. And both are adamant that her wishes be respected. So he has been helping her to the bathroom, shopping and cooking and serving her meals in bed (using her old walker to wheel in her food) or helping her to bump along on her bottom to the dining room. I'm afraid that if I defy their wishes and take ordinary commonsense action, they will not tell me the next time there's an adverse event. So I have been calling every day, getting more and more agitated every time one of them divulges a new detail of how they're managing, and I've been consulting elder-care services and collecting brochures on assisted living and home care so that when I arrive on November 15, a visit that was previously scheduled, we can duke it out.
Finally, yesterday, I got a phone message from my mother's doctor, who had been alerted to the situation by the physical therapist, who had called my mother in alarm because she had missed several appointments (claiming she was "too busy"). Long story short: the doctor persuaded my mother to call 911 to request an ambulance to take her to the emergency room at St. Mary's. Great news! Less great news: the doctor was taking the day off for Halloween (!). I told my parents to bring their cell phone, and said I would also try to keep in touch by calling St. Mary's.
All afternoon and evening I waited to hear from them. I didn't want to intrude if they were being shuffled around for tests. Finally, at about 11 p.m. EST, I started calling: the home phone didn't answer, and the machine didn't pick up; the cell phone was turned off; St. Mary's had no record of her arrival and indeed was full to capacity and had been refusing ambulance drop-offs all day.
Somewhere in the City by the Bay, an elderly couple, one utterly disabled and the other fairly feeble (heart condition, bad knees), were adrift. Dozens of emergency rooms: Where to begin? Smart idea from my sister-in-law: Call the emergency room of the hospital where my mother had last been treated—California Pacific Medical Center. Eureka!
Turned out her patella was broken and she is scheduled for surgery today. Why didn't she or my father call me to let me know where she was? "There was nothing to tell you," she said. "I told your father not to call you till after the surgery."
What is wrong with these people?!