Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tenacious G Plays the Good Samaritan

One reality of having an elderly parent is that you end up sitting in the emergency room from time to time. For instance, a few years ago, my mother decided to leap onto her single bed and landed on the opposite-side floor. This resulted in a broken toe—and a six-hour wait in the emergency room with my mother profusely complaining about the bad service. In a preventive measure, I purchased a double bed for her so that the next time she leapt, she would not overshoot and break something else.

Last night, my mother’s assisted living facility called to say that she had hit her head while trying to help another resident with a motorized wheelchair off an elevator. Apparently, her friend hit the accelerator at the wrong time and sent her flying against the wall. File that one under Geriatric Hijinks.

Tenacious G's assisted living crib: Victoria Mews.
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”—Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., not anticipating Tenacious G.

The phone rang around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night. The Victoria Mews nurse asked that I ferry Mom to the local hospital to ensure the lump on her head was not serious. Bear in mind, that Saturday night is typically the time of week when you are competing with the aftermath of drunk driving, bar fights and whatever else sends people to the hospital during their leisure pursuits.

Little did the nurse appreciate just how hard my mother’s skull truly is. I drove out there and found my mother sitting in the nurse’s office with an icepack on her head, looking like a wayward student in the principal’s office.

“This is nonsense,” she protested. Just the same, the emergency room visit was necessary, so we hopped into my car and drove to the hospital. The nurse there had a great sense of humor. I handed her the stack of papers the facility had given me and she had all the documentation she needed. She ushered us into a curtained stall to await the doctor. Mom occupied a gurney that allowed her to sit up. I had packed a bunch of holiday catalogs for her to read so she wouldn’t complain loudly about the service.

“Love makes the world go round and so does a bump in the head.”—Bill Ekstrand

Not a patient: Tenacious G's friend is a Halloween mummy.
A nice doctor came in to ask her what happened. He laughed and encouraged her to continue helping her fellow residents, despite the scolding she had received from her assisted living nurses. He felt a CAT scan was in order, so she was wheeled out for that. An hour later, she received a clean bill of health and the admiration of the staff on her 85-year-old, tough-as-nails constitution. I told the nurse that I expected that some day she would be taking care of me.

We got back into my car and she immediately assumed the captaincy of the vehicle, directing my driving, from how to back out of the parking space to the proper position my hands should assume on the steering wheel. There was a lot of “Watch out!” and “Look both ways!” that was reminiscent of my younger days.

When we got back to her facility, I walked her up to the nurse’s office to share the discharge papers. “I figured there was nothing wrong with her,” the nurse admitted, “But we had to check it out and make sure.” I agreed.

Mom sped off in her unsteady gate toward her room, grumbling about what nonsense it had all been and such a waste of time. “See you tomorrow!” I said to her back as she trundled off. It was time to return home for a very late dinner.


  1. I used to joke about my Mom as a passenger in the car, and the need to carry a bottle of acetone to remover her nails from the plastic of the dashboard, so I had a nice chuckle at your description of a ride with Mom. I 'm sure I don't have to tell you that the cold dinner was so worth it. I would gladly carry a gallon of acetone in my car just to be able to have Mom here to ride shotgun again! Have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Just called the old girl and reminded her about the time her mother fractured her hip. The MD said she would be unable to go out for about six weeks. Little did he know that there was a "Golden Age Club" party the next day. She went, obviously in great pain and, according to her, she even remembered to give herself extra insulin so she could partake in the cake and ice cream. The female side of the family is nothing if not tough.

  3. Yep, Tom, the menfolk may have been the Greatest Generation when it came to fighting in WWII, but the womenfolk were built like iron and just keep going!

    Thanks for the good wishes, Mar.