Stick a Fork in Me


I’m done, as the saying goes.

Got a call from the nursing home at 9 pm.  Mom was in extreme pain, but refusing all meds, spitting them out, refusing to eat, inconsolable, incoherent, afraid.  Extreme pain does that to a person.  It cross-wires your brain, makes it difficult to think coherently.  When you’re someone already compromised by Alzheimer’s, it becomes a terrifying swirl.

When we arrived, she was in her chair near the nursing station (they had her nearby so she wouldn’t try to get out of bed or tear off the dressing on her hand — soft cast and ace bandage — which she’d already done twice that evening in an effort to figure out “what was wrong” with her broken hand).  She was crying, moaning “Won’t somebody help me, please somebody help me.”  Her relief in seeing us was the relief of a terrified child.  I got her to take her meds at last, but of course the pain was so over the top at this point that it was going to take a very long time to get on top of it again (if it even could).  We’d brought her some tea and made her some toast and got a little into her.  She hadn’t eaten much since the night before the fall, so she was probably hungry as well, but couldn’t express it.

We finally left at 10:30 so they could put her to bed.  I’m praying she was able to sleep, to leave her cast alone, to renew at least a little bit.  She’s going to be in pain for some time since the &*#&*$*&$ hospital never iced the injury when it first occurred, so the swelling is quite extreme and that’s what’s causing the pain more than the broken finger.  They iced it last night and, I hope, will continue to do so if they can get Mom to leave it alone.

We came home, I popped a beer, and (being the lightweight I am) got a happy buzz on a single Corona.  “The Empire Strikes Back” is a much better film when you have a happy buzz.  Went to bed around midnight, got woken twice by incoming text messages from a concerned family member (neither of which I responded to, but sheesh…you couldn’t wait for a decent hour?)  My phone is now my constant companion which is not my usual state of things, but there you have it.  The umbilical cord is restored, only now my mom is the child.

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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4 Responses to Stick a Fork in Me

  1. marie mccarthy says:

    “The umbilical cord is now restored.” Funny, I was thinking of you and the reversal of roles after your last post. I’m 72 and have two daughters. Only this past year have I seen the role reversal creeping into our relationships. At first I resented it like #+$@. Young twerps. Think they know better than me. But then I injured my knee. So now I’m vulnerable and I find their help not only necessary, but charming and loving. How’d they grow up so fast? Yeah, I know something about not icing an injured joint. It’s essential at first, but can also be helpful post injury. (No doubt you’ve seen the Peyton Manning commercial where he is sitting in an ice bath.) The swelling itself can cause excruciating pain. So, from this end of the umbilical cord, thanks to you for your Mom. We Moms and daughters were, are, will be so lucky to have one another. No one’s keeping score, but everything will even out on this crazy ride we’re on. Keep smiling, keep shining (and writing and watching Star Wars–my personal drug of choice is NCIS marathons served with an ice bag). 🙂 Marie McCarthy

    • Oh, Marie! I don’t know where you live but I wish I could walk up to your door, ring the bell, and give you a hug for this! Yes, the role reversal is difficult for everyone. There’s resentment on both sides…and sometimes relief as well. Mom and I have made peace with each other, peace with the past, and it’s SUCH a welcome relief. I wish we’d found a way to do it sooner, but I’m grateful we found a way at all. Heal well, you lovely lady. You clearly have a lot more butt to kick in the world!

  2. bluestempond says:

    “Like” seems to be an inappropriate response to this kind of post, but I am showing my support to you in a frustrating time. My sister and I were just discussing how lucky we’ve been that no big incidents have happened to our mother in a year. Today she is 90.

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