Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mistletoe and a Broken Nose

     Steve and I have the same taste in Christmas trees. We like the kind that look like bottle brush; a stick up the middle with bristly branches sticking out and lots of empty space in between. They're not exactly Charlie Brown trees, but the skinny ones come pretty close. I think they are called Canaan Fir. Nelson's Tree Farm still had plenty of these trees in their fields. Some of them have grown too big to be practical, but we were given permission to take the uppermost part of those too-big trees if we wished. The elder Mr. and Mrs. Nelson, who started the Christmas tree farm, passed away a few years ago and their four sons have kept it running. One of the sons planted 1400 new seedlings. We spoke with him and he said they are still unsure about the fate of the property. It could end up being rented or sold, but he hopes to keep the tree farm operating. We saw rows and rows of the seedling trees when we were hunting for our tree.
     Here we have it! It looks huge in this photo! We cut off the upper three fourths to be our Christmas tree and saved the lower boughs to use for other decorations. We always have a good time walking over to Neslon's to get our tree. Every year I say I'm going to cut one of the super scraggly trees and use it in our upstairs hall and then I always find an excuse not to bother.
     The next day, we came down from the high of tree trimming happiness when Mom took another bad fall. She broke her nose again; this being the third time in the past eighteen months. We spent Sunday evening in the ER and got home around midnight. The Carilion Emergency Room staff gave us the bare bones basic treatment of a CAT scan. Otherwise her care was pitiful. Her entire ER experience took place in the hallway. It was degrading. We sat in the hallway for three hours and I had to keep moving her gurney because it was in the way of others passing by. I noticed the hallway was numbered along the top of the wall just for this purpose of parking gurneys with patients. We were parked at number ten along the hall with three other patients, one of whom was vomiting. She was in her nightgown and slippers, it was cold, and she was in so much pain. I kept trying to cover her bare legs with the skimpy flannel sheet. My poor mom is too old to be handled this way. They never even gave her an ice pack for her swollen nose and eyes. Once the radiology was complete and they knew the extent of her injuries, I asked the nurse if they could give her some Motrin for the pain. The nurse winced and said she's have to put in a request to the attending doctor and it would take a really long time to get approval. She actually told us it would be quicker to get the Motrin after we got home. So we waited for them to discharge her, we drive thirty miles home, and then (four and a half hours after she fell), she got some Motrin. She was too tired for the ice pack.
     My mom is a real trooper and she's handling this very well despite feeling miserable. While I nurse her back to health, I worry about the next fall which inevitably will come. I feel like she should avoid the Emergency Room at all costs, but what are our alternatives?  My friends suggest going to Lewis Gale rather than Carilion and we might try that, if or when there's a next time.
     In the meantime, Christmas comes in fits and starts. I wrap a gift here, place a decoration there, and somehow it all comes together beautifully. Then, in the late afternoon when the sky is darkening and the tree lights are on, I park my mom in front of the Christmas tree and she starts remembering stories. I remember too. It's one of those places in time where love and loss and pain and joy all intermingle and the memories are cherished.


  1. So sorry to read about your mom'd fall, Lee, and even sadder about the care she received in the emergency room. Patients should not be treated so poorly when in such discomfort. Well wishes to your mom that she will be feeling better in the coming days and hopefully you will as well. Sitting by the light of the Christmas tree is beautiful.

  2. I thought I had commented on this post - so sorry. I read it, but must have been at work and gotten distracted.

    The falling is a scary thing, isn't it? And it happens. My mom fell at the assisted living facility in Macon, GA and was on the floor for hours - no one checked on her. That's why we moved her to Thomasville. She broke her shoulder. The young lady who was on duty during the night was a college student and got caught up in her studying and didn't do her random night checks. Mom couldn't reach the pull cord that would have alerted her. The next facility had those things you wear around your neck. Much better.

    Your mom does sound like a real trooper. And I imagine you are exhausted. Christmas will come together. I love the last two lines of your post - they made me tear up. Lovely.

  3. I am so sorry. The health care here is really bad, and the ERs are used by far too many people who don't need to be there. When my husband got his arm caught in the hay baler, he also spent his time in a gurney in the hallway. He bled all over the floor. It is really terrible at Carilion, and I don't know how they justify that kind of care. We had only marginally better care at Lewis Gale when I had my gallbladder issues, but at least I wasn't in a hallway.

    It was nice to see you at Kroger. I think that happened before your mother's accident. I do hope that she will be okay, and that you and yours have a nice holiday and a wonderful 2016. Take care of yourself. Being a caregiver is tough work.

  4. This story breaks my heart. It started happy, because we love the same kind of trees and the tree farm down the street has our kind of trees. And then I started reading about your mom.this all breaks my heart. My husbands mom has been wheel chair bound for 5 years. I don't know what we would do without the nursing home. At two and a half hours away, we are the closest family. I too have worried abut her hospital stays. She is 90. Another in my bible study spends part of everyday with her 92 year. old mom. The image of your mom by the tree warned my heart.