Again, my ninety-year-old mother-in-law, Gooma, wasn’t answering her phone. But this time it wasn’t because she had accidently turned it off. She had fallen and couldn’t get up. My wife found her on the floor just outside the small hallway that leads to the two bedrooms and the bathroom. After about a week in the hospital, the doctor determined that she should no longer be by herself. So now she lives with us.
My wife moved her art room into the living room, moved some of the living room into the garage and some of it into the Goodwill building, so Gooma could have a larger space than before. She had previously moved into my office, the last time she shouldn’t be by herself – which turned out to be temporary. But this time it’s permanent. Her daughter, my wife the nurse, takes care of her, fixing her meals, taking her to the bathroom or changing her diaper, giving her a sit-down shower (I’m thinking I might like to start doing that – I mean sitting down while showering, not washing Gooma, and I’d want a water-proof recliner, not just a little seat), and trying to keep her entertained with conversation, and in the evening turning on the news and then watching The Bang Theory, which Gooma loves, no one understands why. She was born in 1931.
Being forensically minded, I wanted to know exactly what happened in her house. My wife described the scene this way: Gooma was on the floor with her upper half in the landing of the front entrance and her legs in the little hall. Her walker was in the doorway of the second bedroom at the end, facing away from the bathroom door. The first thing Gooma said after her daughter found her was, “Someone took my walker.” Ah, so she went to the bathroom, came out, turned right, couldn’t find her walker, which was to her left, tried to walk to the living room, and fell. Makes sense. However, there is still the mystery of why a pillow was on the floor in the doorway of her bedroom. Her only explanation is that she had been folding clothes from the dryer. There were no such clothes anywhere.
But why did she not remember where she parked her walker? I thought perhaps she’d had a stroke, and that was indeed confirmed later by the doctor in the hospital. A mini stroke. The only one in over 1092 months. Impressive! (I think I have at least three mini strokes a week now). But apparently, Gooma’s mini stroke not only interfered with her spatial cognizance, it also debilitated her mobility. No matter how much she exercises or eats, she cannot stand without help, and cannot walk with her walker without a spotter. Most of the time my wife pushes her in the portable wheelchair, to the dining room table, to the bathroom, to the living room couch, to her room. And she’s complained about having to go upstairs to go to bed. Our house is one story. Her room is three inches down from our living room.
I think she eats better here. Three squares a day of meat and veggies, with snacks in between of fruit and her favorite cheese, Gjetost, with crackers. But she sleeps a lot, almost all the time. I can only hope she’s dreaming good dreams of better days.