Wednesday, March 12, 2008
March 16, 1922 - February 12, 2008
It's been a week since my last entry. You'd think someone died or something. Oh, wait, someone did die. My Aunt Genie.
In fact, I think they killed her. She fell and broke her hip and wrist a few weeks ago. Note to self -- ask someone to shoot you if that happens. At least end it before they start using you as an experiment. Death seems to be the only option for old people who have to trust their health to the medical profession when something happens. Despite the odds of survival, which were not good for someone my aunt's age, she was doing well enough after surgery to be sent to re-hab, which, as it turns out, is what I think did her in.
I flew out to visit her in the hospital soon after the accident, and she was in very good spirits, considering. She was checked into the hospital where she had worked for years as a nurse, so the good news was that she had old friends on staff who were constantly looking in on her. The bad news was she didn't like some of the new staff. She was old school and thought the new nurses weren't trained as well as they should be. Especially those from other countries. In her quiet way, she was keeping tabs and making sure things were handled in the proper manner. Probably a good sign that her mind was doing fine, but I'm sure it was disconcerting to the people she was taking to task.
One theory of her accident was that her hip broke when she turned around too quickly in her small kitchen. One of her best friends and I had lunch after her memorial service. Turns out we both think she broke her hip because she passed out and broke things when she fell down. Along with her broken bones, the docs discovered she was anemic after they got her to the hospital. She also suffered a fall while visitng a friend last July which was attributed to tripping over her shoes. We think she had anemia back then too, blacked out for a moment, and fell.
I found it interesting that UCLA's old coach, John Wooden, recently went to the hospital after a fall. They discovered he was anemic, so he might have passed out like we think my aunt did. Nancy Reagan recently fell, but luckily, she didn't break anything. No news about whether she passed out or just tripped while trying to discipline a servant.
One the biggest problems of getting old is just staying on your feet. Your balance sucks all of a sudden. Your bones can get so brittle that they breakand you're down. Or you can get dizzy and hit the ground. You can even do what I did a few winters ago. I walked out my back door, noticed that the steps looked slippery and said to myself, 'Be careful, the steps look slippery." As soon as I put my foot down I proceeded to do a pratfall worthy of the Three Stooges. I don't know how I avoided hitting my head. After landing hard enough on my ass and right elbow to make me wonder if anything was broken I discovered 1] I was just fine, thank you 2] I probably needed new steps 3] I might be late for dinner with my friends.
My aunt was not so lucky. After surgery for a rod to stabilze her hip and a cast for her wrist, she was sent to the previously mentioned re-hab hospital for some industrial strength physical therapy. Unfortunately when they brought her back from an afternoon of PT, they twisted her leg and hurt her broken hip, while moving her from the stretcher to her bed. One of my cousins was there to see that happen. The next time she went to PT it happened again. After this second mishap, a large bruise appeared on the inside of her leg.
Bruises mean blood clots. And blood clots are inclined to travel. If they get to your heart, lungs or brain they can kill you. Several hours later my aunt was rushed back to the hospital emergency room, because she was suddenly having trouble breathing. I think she had thrown a pulmonary embolism from the bruise on her leg. Other people think her heart just gave out.
Either way, she died.
Tomorrow or the next day or the day after that: the memorial service