Two days before Mother's Day, I received the call I always dread. "Lisa, your mom fell and hit her head. She's on her way to the hospital."
My heart sank. My mom, Rose Beebe, 88, had fallen a few times since she moved into an Alzheimer's facility a couple years ago. Each time she somehow managed to avoid any fractures or serious injuries.
But with brittle bones and worn out joints, I know she is one fall away from disaster.
As I rush into her room at the emergency room, the doctor is examining her. Mom has on a neck brace and is strapped to a gurney. She looks confused. The doctor told me she had a large hematoma on the back of her head, and he ordered tests to assess it and to check for broken bones.
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I give Mom a kiss on the cheek.
"I'm glad you're here," she says. "What happened to me?"
"You tripped and fell and hit your head," I tell her, stroking her face.
"I tripped and fell and it hurt like hell," she replies with a chuckle. Mom never leaves home without her sense of humor, and I take this as a good sign. She says her head hurts and complains about the neck brace being uncomfortable and tries to pull it off.
I explain to her that the doctor put the brace on to keep her stabilized and will remove it as soon as she can.
"I can't wait on them, they're piddling around," she replies.
A nurse comes in to take Mom for X-rays. As the nurse wheels Mom down the hall I hear her yell, "Now, slow down."
I sink into my chair to catch my breath. I'm relieved Mom's spunk and distaste for hospitals is intact but am still worried about her condition.
Among people 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths. Of seniors older than 80, half will fall annually.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 30 percent of seniors 65 and older who fall and break their hip will die within a year. Those not injured in a fall often develop a fear of falling.
This anxiety may cause them to limit their activities, leading to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which in turn increases the risk of falling.
Mom has been afraid of falling for quite some time and moves with caution.
The nurse wheels Mom back into the room and we begin the wait to get her results. By now she is aching all over and is feeling restless. She is tugging at her neck brace, asking me to take it off. I explain to her again about her fall.
"Who am I, Humpty Dumpty?" she asks. "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again."
We giggle at her comment and I continue to try to distract her from her pain. I can imagine the fear she is feeling but cannot express. I'm glad I am here to comfort her, and I feel for the elderly who have to be alone in the hospital.
Before long, Mom's agitation heightens and she gets angry at me for not taking the brace off. I tell her it won't be long and that I love her.
"I love you a bushel and a peck and a kick in the pants," she says. I continue trying to calm her.
"Take this off, I'm dying," she moans, getting more panicked.
"No you're not, you're too mean to die today," I reply, determined to keep her engaged.
"Well maybe so, but I want it off anyway," she grumbles.
About that time, the doctor comes in says there is nothing broken, but that Mom has some slight bleeding inside her head. She doesn't think it is serious but sends Mom uptown to Carolinas Medical Center for observation and to have a neurologist look at her scan.
Fortunately, she was sent home later in the day with orders to keep a watch on her. Mom has escaped another catastrophe.
I was particularly grateful to celebrate Mother's Day this year. Although Mom was sore and weak, her spirit and loving kindness were strong. My siblings, daughter and I gathered around her bed to celebrate our beloved matriarch - a mother of five, grandmother to eight and great-grandmother to seven.
When my brother, Warren, told her "Happy Mother's Day," she replied, "Every day is Mother's Day."
She is right.
But this one is more special than ever.
Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.