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We are home from a visit with HH's Mom. The good news is that she is back in her own home after less than seven weeks in rehab. They had told us it would be at least three months. She has both a strong body and a strong will to recover.
The bad news is that she will almost certainly break another bone. It's not just that she has osteoporosis, which she does. It's not just that she has bad balance, which she does. It's not even that she wants to be independent, which is an admirable trait.
It's that she forgets that she is not 65 years old anymore. She gets an idea in her head and charges off across the room without her walker. It's just a matter of time before she falls again. She has 24 hour care. Either a family member or a health care worker is with her all the time. But it doesn't help.
In the few days that my husband and I stayed with her, giving the health care workers a few days off, we had several scares.
The doorbell would ring. She would jump up to answer it.
I would be walking beside her, and she would turn away from her walker and head toward the closet. I would put my hand on her shoulder and say, "Where are you going?" She would answer, "To get my lipstick," as if that were the most necessary thing in the world.
At dusk she would get up from her chair and go to close the blinds - standing on one foot to do so.
I slept in the room next to hers with the door open, and a baby monitor on full volume. But she could get out of bed and half way to the bathroom before I could reach her.
We had lots of conversations about this. My conversations were gentle. My husband's conversations were authoritarian. In the moment that the conversation took place, she was in complete agreement. She knows that if she breaks her neck again while the vertebrae are still healing, she will be paralyzed. She knows that if she breaks another bone, that her body will be under extreme stress, dealing with two major injuries. She knows that family, friends, and workers are there to help her.
But in the moment she wants something done she is not 92 years old. She is 35 or 45 or 55. She is her young, stubbornly independent self. She jumps up to get it done.
In a way, I have to admire her. She is not a couch potato. She does not want to be waited on. She is not the least bit lazy. But one day our phone will ring, and we will hear that she is on the way to the hospital again.
So, I ask myself. How much of this will I remember when I am old? Both of my parents lived into their 90s. When I am that age, will I be stubborn or cooperative? Will I be careless or cautious? Will I be able to slow down gracefully?
I don't know. But in the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to keep my mind and my bones strong.
I never had to deal with any of this. All of my older relatives had illnesses that kept them unable to "jump up" and fall when they were sick and dying.
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