Serious fall leads to all sorts of pain, frustration

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A most frustrating situation hit close to home for me this week after my 84-year-old mother had a serious fall at her apartment in New Jersey. There is no good time to get sick or suffer a serious injury, of course.

Those of you who are seniors or have older parents understand first-hand how health risks greatly increase as we age.

My mother’s physical condition has declined considerably in recent years, such that it helped convince me to leave Oklahoma five years ago and move back to New Jersey to help care for her after knee replacement surgery.

Well, my sister (who lives close to her) retired in late 2017 and was able to take on more caretaker duties. That allowed me to return to my “real home” in Oklahoma in July 2018.

My mother has been able to live independently until now. We’ll see what the near future holds.

Neither my sister nor I have been able to visit our mother in the hospital during this past week. Due to COVID-19, St. Clare’s Dover General Hospital in Dover, NJ (and most other healthcare facilities in New York and New Jersey) have restricted visitors entirely.

My sister lives in Ledgewood, NJ, about 10 minutes from the hospital. I live 23.5 hours away if I decided to drive it since airline travel to New Jersey is not advisable.

Even if I tried to make the drive (done it in two days), it would be of little use since not even family can see patients in the hospital.

My mother broke her right hip and shoulder when she fell. She was in excruciating pain, more than I could even imagine.

Doctors recommended, and I agreed, to have her undergo both hip and shoulder replacement surgery as soon as possible. The hip was done last Saturday afternoon and the shoulder Monday morning.

How terrible is it for an 84-year-old woman to have two major surgical procedures and be confined to her hospital bed – barely able to move? Add to that the fact that neither her son nor daughter can come by to be with her before or after surgery.

I understand the procedures that hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, and other medical facilities must follow to reduce the spread of this killer disease. As bad as we have it here in Oklahoma, it is many times worse in New York, New Jersey and other places that are much more densely populated.

I talk to my mother daily and hear the pain and frustration she is experiencing. Worst of all, she is not too optimistic.

I know she wants us there by her bedside as she recovers from these surgeries and prepares to begin months of therapy and rehabilitation.

She will be placed in isolation at the rehab center too, which means we also will not be able to come visit her.

As someone who has had five knee surgeries, two foot surgeries and a back surgery (all before age 35), I can only imagine what my mother feels after a terrible fall followed by two joint replacements over three days. That is the definition of trauma.

My mother is strong and will persevere. I just wish I could be with her right now more than ever.

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