It's interesting how if we can stay in observation mode, will we dip into our periods of seeming darkness, and we will come out on the other side. When my father-in-law had to go to the hospital for a fall last week, it threw me for a loop. I thought he was stable at his new assisted-living facility; he only moved in two weeks prior. But then the fall happened, and I felt powerless.
Tao and I were out at Still Waters, preparing for a long weekend of work. We planned on painting and cleaning construction areas of the main house to help move the restoration along. We were still at least a couple of months out from opening the center. Exhausted, we were binge-watching Netflix and snoozing as the rain poured outside Cottage Duality. My phone rang. I ignored it. It rang again, and I answered.
The assisted living facility nurse said everything was alright, but Tao’s dad fell. The nurse said he was having some pain. She called as part of their protocol to notify the family, and she stated that everything was okay. She called me back three hours later.
This time, he wasn’t fine. He couldn’t get out of bed. They were calling an ambulance. When a resident cannot ambulate to the bathroom, the jig is up.
Immediately I was upset. Breathing into the moments of anguish, I set to calm myself down. We gathered our things, plans disrupted. We drove for an hour to the art studio and took showers. We settled the dogs and went to the hospital.
Dad was in a private room. He was happy to see us and wondered why he couldn’t take a Tylenol and go home. The doctors and nurses spent the next two days doing tests. There were Fall Risk signs posted all around.
They didn’t get Dad up on his feet much. In two days, he got so weak that he couldn’t transfer. One of my friends told me an older adult loses 5% of their muscle mass in one day from inactivity. That makes me want to work out right now.
I was back on the elder care rollercoaster. Anyone who cares for an elder knows what I mean. Would he get admitted? Yes. Would he stay for a few days and qualify for coverage at an inpatient rehab? No. Luckily, he was able to return to his Assisted Living apartment but now needs oxygen and 24/7 care. His strength declined significantly.
The night he got home from the hospital, he was moving from a wheelchair to his bed. He moved slowly and laboriously. He was frail and extremely weak. I had not seen his strength be that little since his open heart surgery last year. So he must begin to get strong again.
Caring for my elderly father-in-law is emotionally exhausting. I know I must be his advocate because it is what is in front of me right now. If not me, then who? I have to ask the questions, keep the records, do the planning, set things in the right direction. It is the perfect balance between my desire for tidy control and my allowing of the universe. However, when things go awry and not according to plan, I get miffed and thrown off center.
I just want to control the situation and get everything the way I want it to be. But unfortunately, a bit of surrender and acceptance is important in this scenario. Luckily I was able to get to a 12-step meeting, reach out to people that know me well and find support. I also allowed the experts to do what they do best.
Things always turn out better when I surrender. In the meantime, while I'm going through trying times, I need to slow down, reflect, relax, pray, meditate, and hold my pain tenderly. I don't have to push it away. Just be with it and eventually, things start to change. As long as I don't stuff my feelings, it will work itself out.