When All the Possibilities That Accompany Having an Elderly Parent Come Into Sharp Focus
At the risk of making a generalization, I've always felt that those in my generation--Generation X--and maybe those a few years older than me are always a little surprised at how old we're getting.
I have three good friends--Trace, Todd, and Russ--that I met on my first day as a student at Western Kentucky University back in August of 1984.
We are friends to this day.
No, I don't see them very much at all. Sometimes I'll go a year, or even multiple years, without seeing them.
But we're family.
We all got together two years ago at Trace's home in Shelbyville ON Trace's birthday to celebrate ALL of us hitting 50.
I'm in January, Russ is February, Todd in March, and Trace in April.
We reminisced. We complained about it being colder than when we were 18. And we talked about our parents.
We've each lost at least one parent.
While what happened this weekend with my mom was not life-threatening, I thought about those guys and what we've shared over the years when I was helping my mom through an ordeal with her knee.
My mother, Sue (pictured standing between my aunt's and uncle's two Grand Pyrenees, Gus and Dolly, in New Mexico), is 84 and has arthritis, particularly in her right knee. Somehow she tore a little of her meniscus--the cartilage in the knee socket--and that led to bleeding inside her knee. At the emergency room Sunday morning, her pain was relieved when the doctor aspirated that blood.
She was given some pain medication and we went home about noon and she was actually without pain for about 24 hours.
Yesterday, Monday, I took the day off because there would be no one to be with her since my nephew was at school. After that 24 hour period ended, the pain came roaring back and we went to see a specialist.
Her pain increased last night and we went to the emergency room where they gave her a pain killer to help her get through the night. Which she did and, actually, with flying colors.
But this morning, we went back to the specialist and got a steroid shot and some great info from the doctor. She's at home now, probably watching Gunsmoke on MeTV.
I've been very busy the last two days. I'm pretty sure I rarely stopped moving yesterday. And in the rare quiet times I began to think about all that having an octogenarian parent entails.
I began to really consider her own mortality. Again, none of this is life-threatening.
But I've also never seen this very strong woman in pain like this--to the point of crying and moaning in her sleep FROM the pain--and I feel like I experienced a shift in the way I look at life. Hers. Mine. Ours--as in my family's.
I see changes coming and I will adjust accordingly. As will we all. I've had my moment of "I'm overwhelmed" and now I'm hoping I'm ready to face what comes next. Could be rehab. Could be she's back at it and back to normal before we know it. Who knows?
I shed some tears the last 24 hours watching her go through this because it's not something I've ever seen from her. She's a tough lady.
My sister and are tough people on the strength of it. But "overwhelmed" gets the better of everyone from time to time and then you re-focus.
I plan to count on that strength and focus when whatever comes down the pike comes down that pike.