Monday, October 19, 2009

The Fall

I have been on hundreds of "assist a fall victim" over the years. Most often, you arrive, find your customer, assess the situation and help them to their chair or bed. I always double check to make sure that there is no injury and that that there is someone there to care for the customer.

Sometimes, your customer is in major denial and needs to be transported. Every once in a while, (how do I want to say this) you take them after much convincing or determining that they have an altered level of consciousness. I mean if they were not altered, they wouldn't want to stay in that filth encrusted bed, right?

Last night after returning home from our trip, we received a call from my brother in law. He was at my father in law's house after being called there by the Saint's father. Apparently, my father in law had fallen about five PM and was unable to get himself up. He tried for an hour or so, then spent the next couple of hours crawling into the front room where he could get to a phone and call my brother in law.

My brother in law drove over and helped him get to a chair, where he could sit on the floor and lean against it. I was called to help lift him into the chair.

I get over there and find the Saint's dad alert and oriented, complaining if minor pain to his foot, elbow and hand. He is missing some skin from those areas, his "old guy skin" unable to take the trauma of crawling very well. He denies neck or back pain, LOC or even hitting his head. He insists that he is OK, I feel pretty comfortable with his story of leaning over to get some ice out of his bottom freezer and losing his balance. He also says that he has some minor pain to his ribs as a result of the fall. The pain does not increase upon inhalation, no crepitice is observed nor does a healthy cough seem to produce more pain.

The Saint's brother and I lift him easily into his chair. The brother in law starts to clean his wounds, I get some bandages ready.

The Saint's dad is a pretty tough old bastard. He was pretty ornerous as a youngster, even as a middle aged man. He can still piss the Saint off pretty good, that trait has kept some of the heat off of me. He grew up on a farm in Iowa and joined the Marines to get off of the farm. He got out of the service and went to work as a heavy equipment operator until retiring 15 or so years ago. He worked hard and partied hard, the latter causing some problems for a while.

Three or four years ago, they found a spot on his lung and opened him up. Due to the location and size of the tumor, the could not remove it or the lung. They sewed him up and told him that they could buy some time with chemo and radiation.

The years since his diagnosis have been pretty good for him, all things considered. His ornerousity has served him well in this regard. He still lives alone and is supported by his family and hospice. He does not want to move and does not want to hire someone to help care for him. This event may change his mind.

I could tell as we assisted him to his room, helped undress him and help into bed, that he was shaken by this. Hopefully, he will now listen to us and get one of those "help me" pendants that you see on TV. I could also tell that his ribs were hurting him more than he was letting on.

We determined that he was unable to stay by himself last night. That was a no-brainer. I hung out while my brother in law went back to his place to get a few things. I chatted with him while his son was gone, he lamented how he never thought he would end up in such a state.

I think that he will recover from this latest episode, although not without some modifications to his lifestyle. Time will tell on that. Regardless, one of these times is likely to be catastrophic event for him and for us. I hope we are all up to the task.

Thanks for reading,



  1. This is so hard, no one wants to lose their independence and privacy. Many times, the older person will tune out family too. As an RN, sometimes I have been the one to give the reality check that gets through to a person. Afterwards, the kids will tell me, "We've been trying to get him/her to understand that for years."

    And you worry. My mom, 72, has had hips,both and knees, both, replaced. During her recovery time, she fell at home and couldn't get up on her feet. She too crawled to the phone to call friends. Finally, she did get the button. I think she's pretty realistic about her physical limits. But, do fret about "the big one",especially if you live a ways away.

  2. I know so many people in our position. Thankfully we live close by to both of our folks but still we worry. Good luck with your Ma.