I was awakened, about 4 O’clock Friday morning when Harriet, who was headed to the bathroom, fell to the floor. I jumped out of bed and asked her, “Are you okay? What happened?” Her response was so strange that I wondered if she had hit her head and was having a brain bleed. Whereas, in the past, when she fell, she would be quite upset, crying, frustrated, and/or angry, this time she had no emotions at all. Her answers were a complete monotone, and her face was completely blank. She laid there and answered, “I fell.” “Did you hurt yourself?” I asked. “Broke my arm.” I could see that her wrist was crooked and had a bulge. I asked, “Should we try to get you up? Do you think you could slide up the ramp?” “My arm is too sore to do that.” She monotoned. “Wait here, I’m going to get my phone and call 911.” “Would you get me a couple of towels first? I really need to pee.” Still no emotion. I got a couple of bath towels and put them under her and went and got my cell phone and called for an ambulance.
The E.M.T.s arrived about five minutes later. The two men came in with a stretcher. One was thin about 5’9” tall and seemed like a very nice man. The other one was about 6’5” and, you could tell by looking at him that, he was a weightlifter. His arms were covered with tattoos and he could either be a really nice guy, or the kind of man who would kill you for fun. Turns out, he was very tender towards Harriet, and assured her that everything was going to be alright. After speaking with her, he squatted behind her, put his arms around her, and next thing you know, they both stood up. I was really impressed and wished I hadn’t given up lifting weights.
Next, they walked Harriet to the stretcher and took her out to the ambulance. I followed them to Bixby Hospital Emergency Room. We were at the ER for about six hours, during which time they took an x-ray of the arm, did a general work up of blood and urine, and an assessment of her medications. After we had been in the ER for about three hours her emotions started to return. Not that she was upset or crying, but she was speaking with the nurse with more of a normal speaking voice.
The test results were that she did, indeed, have a broken arm, luckily it was a clean break and she didn’t need plates, screws, or pins surgically implanted. Because of the swelling, Harriet had to wait until Tuesday to have a cast put on. The doctor wrapped the arm and showed her how to use a sling. Harriet was warned to do as little as possible, with the arm, lest she made things worse.
The tests also showed that Harriet still had a Urinary Tract Infection, which she had been on medication for, at least twice since August. They said that they would do a culture and that she should see her Primary Care Physician early in the next week. She was also cautioned about falling while still on blood thinners. If she hit her head and had a brain bleed it could prove fatal. She was discharged around 10:30 am and went home for a nap.
Because Harriet’s birthday was Sunday, we decided to begin celebrating her birthday week. During a Birthday week the person with a birthday gets to choose what and where they would like to eat one meal a day for the week around their birthday. For example, Harriet could ask me to make ribs for dinner or go to a rib restaurant. Her choice. I got a text from my good friend Bill inviting us to join the breakfast club who were going out to Herold’s for dinner. We decided to join them. About seven people came to dinner, and we enjoyed the good food, friends and conversation.
Saturday was uneventful and I prepared for the Birthday party. I made potato salad and coleslaw and bought four racks of ribs and a carrot cake. Josh and his family, Zach and Gina, and Michelle had all made commitments to come. Harriet was exhausted from her time at the ER and slept quite a bit. We went to the Red Lobster for Harriet’s birthday week. Michelle arrived around eight pm. and we helped her get settled in.
On Sunday I went to the 10 am service at St. Mary’s, Harriet was still sleeping, and Michelle thought she should stay at home in case Harriet needed help. After church, we had lunch and began the preparations for dinner, which was scheduled for 5. In the past Harriet would have cooked everything except the potato salad, now I do the bulk of the cooking and she has an advisory position. Sometimes when I ask questions she understands and answers, giving me good advice. At other times, she has a look that says she has no idea what I’m talking about. Even when she knows the answer, I have to wait for it. Her mind is slow to process the question and come up with an answer. I put the ribs in the oven and Michelle was busy preparing a vegie and cheese tray. Bottles of soda pop, and water were in the cooler and everything was right on schedule.
Josh, his wife Michelle, their five children, and their dog Enzo arrived around four o’clock and Zach and Gina came shortly after that. Things went from peaceful too busy as the two dogs, five grandchildren and seven adults began interacting. We loved it, there’s nothing better than having your children and grandchildren around. I transferred the ribs from the oven to the grill and slathered sauce all over the ribs, myself, the dogs, and the grill. While I can cook, I tend to be pretty messy.
Dinner was a huge success, the weather was nice, so we sat outside on the deck. Our Beagle Daisy was having a blast, with kids dropping food or just giving it to her, she was in hog heaven. It takes much longer to prepare a meal than it does to consume one. It didn’t take long for most of the ribs, and all the other dishes, to have very little left. (I would rather have too much prepared, and eat leftovers, than to run out of food before everyone was satisfied.)
After dinner we took a break and sipped coffee and talked, while we waited until we had room for cake and ice and cream. Finally, everyone was ready for cake, and we had the traditional cake with candles. (since 68 candles were a bit much, I put six candles on one side and eight on the other.) We all sang “Happy Birthday to you…, and Harriet made a wish and blew out the candles. I began serving cake and ice cream. (Ice cream is one of my many weaknesses, and I might have eaten a bit too much.) Following that, Harriet opened her gifts and cards. She was so happy, that she was beaming.
All too soon the evening was over, and everyone left for home. Michelle and I cleaned up while Harriet was napping in her chair.
Monday was a quiet day, Michelle stayed through Tuesday morning which was a great help. She took Harriet to the dentist while I went to an appointment at Edward Jones. Harriet’s Dentist appointment was to take care of three cavities. This is something new that’s occurred since she got FTD. In 50 years together, I cannot remember any cavities, but in the last two years, she has had multiple cavities. Since she was a brave soldier, and for the Birthday week dinner, we went to the Embers Bar and Grill in Tecumseh, Michigan. The Monday dinner special is a ten-ounce New York Strip Steak, potato and vegetable, for $8.50. Michelle and Harriet spent the rest of the day making plans for our 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration which will be held on November 2nd.
Harriet had a lot of Doctor’s appointments that week and we combined the appointments with the birthday week meals. On Tuesday she went to have her cast put on and we afterwards we went to the Big Boy for dinner. On Thursday she went to the Michigan Spine Institute in Ann Arbor and was told that the fall back in June had caused a compression fracture on one of her vertebrae. However, because the injury was so old the bone was totally healed, even though it would never be as wide as it was before the accident. They made a six week follow up appointment to make sure everything was still okay. For lunch, we drove through Wendy’s and got spicy Chicken Sandwiches because we had to rush back to Adrian for the MRI that the pain clinic had ordered. She was so tired from the two appointments that we went home and had leftovers for dinner. On Thursday, she saw her primary care doctor for a follow up on the UTI. We went to Jerry’s Pub on Wampler’s lake and had Fish for dinner. On Monday, the 30th, we returned to Ann Arbor and went to Doctor who specializes in Sports injuries. He looked at the X-rays and said that the kneecap was not cracked but the injury was caused by all the arthritis. They gave Harriet an injection, putting a type of jell behind the kneecap to help relieve the pain. She has a follow-up appointment in January. Since she was a brave soldier, and didn’t make a fuss about the injection, and for a slightly extended birthday week, we went to Olive Garden for dinner.
One thing that is new with the FTD is she cannot keep any days or appointments straight. I am now in charge of her appointments and her social calendar. On the way to appointments, she will ask repeatedly, “Where are we going? Is this really necessary or are the doctors just trying to get more money out of me? I’m sorry to have to ask this again, but why we are going to this appointment?” I always assure her that the questions are okay and answer them again and again.
You may recall, from a previous blog, that to help with her day/date confusion, I put a white board and a large calendar in the bedroom hallway. It really didn’t help because she could look at the calendar and still not know what the date was. I started crossing out days every evening, thinking that his would help. It didn’t seem to help because she couldn’t remember what the Xes on the calendar stood for. I bought a clock that has the indoor and outdoor temperature, the day and the date, as well as the time and moon cycle. Looking at the clock, which is hung right above the calendar, tells her what day it is and what the date is. For example, she can look at the clock and see that it is Monday, September 14, and look at the calendar to see if she has any appointments. I’m not sure if she can really do more that look at the clock and calendar to see what the date is. Even if she does make the connection to see about appointments, by the time she sits in her Lazy Boy, she will have forgotten everything that she just saw.
The next blog is entitled, Misunderstandings and a 50/50 trip to Vermont. I hope to post it in the next few days.