I didn’t blog much last year. Maybe because I stopped watching the news to preserve my sanity, and without news there’s not much craziness and stupidity to point out and comment on.
I have a friend who’s older than I, who recently fell and broke his elbow and his hip. That’s a tough combination. If it were only his elbow he would be mostly fine while it healed; and if it were only his hip he could get around with a walker. But his elbow had to be replaced, and with the artificial elbow he can’t put any weight on that arm, not only now, but ever. So he has a very hard time getting up out of bed or out of a chair, with only one arm and one leg to lift himself with; and he walks very unsteadily since he can only hold a cane with one hand, rather than using a two-handed walker. So he is constantly in danger of falling, and when he falls he can’t get up.
And yet, he insisted on leaving the rehab place where he had been staying for over a month. I understood they weren’t going to release him until they were sure he could get himself up and move around without danger to himself. In fact he had chosen a date to leave, and then called and told me he would have to delay it a week because they felt he wasn’t ready.
So when he told me he was ready to go and was being released, I assumed he had reached the point where he could move around adequately. Therefore when he asked me for a ride home, I said sure. This was a couple days ago.
When I arrived in his room at the rehab facility, he had me help him stand up, which he was able to do with my help and a cane. A nurse came in and showed me how to fold up his wheelchair. Then he got back in the chair, since they insisted that he use it until he got to the car.
I wheeled him to the car and helped him out of the chair and into the car, which went relatively smoothly. We (my wife and I) got him home, helped him out of the car, and he walked, slowly and carefully, towards his front steps. There were five steps and he just managed to climb them, again with my help. This was a little scary, but I figured he was OK on flat ground, and as long as he didn’t try to go out of the house on his own, he would be OK.
But when he got to the top step, he was out of gas. He couldn’t get his injured leg up to the level of the porch and regain his balance, so he dropped to his knees. I tried to help him up as I had done when he got out of the chair, but this time he couldn’t manage it. I was in the position of having to lift his entire weight with barely any help from him, and he’s not a small guy – about six feet and 200 or so pounds.
I just couldn’t do it. But there he was, kneeling in a precarious position at the top of a flight of five stairs. He wasn’t complaining. After a couple of minutes all he said was, “Do you have any suggestions?”
I said, “Well, I can try to lift you but you need to try to get your legs under you.” I called my wife from inside the house and asked her to stand behind him so he wouldn’t tumble down the stairs. In the event, she helped to lift his weight, and between the three of us we got him to his feet, with cane in hand. What a relief.
He shuffled into the house and got into his wheelchair, but then we discovered the wheelchair would barely fit into his hallway and through his bedroom door. And once he got into the bedroom, he was unable to get up from the wheelchair in order to get into bed. So again I had to heft his bulk out of the chair and onto his feet. At this point he started taking off his pants so he could get into bed, and again he fell down.
Fortunately at this point a neighbor of his had come by, and with his help we got him into bed. But what now? How did he expect to move around and take care of himself in this condition? I don’t live anywhere near him and certainly couldn’t spend entire days helping him shuffle around the house and picking him up when he fell. His neighbor too – who wasn’t that young himself — protested that his back wouldn’t stand that kind of lifting on an ongoing basis, so that if my friend fell again, he was just going to have to call 911.
Basically I felt I had been had. My friend misled me as to his capabilities, and I felt I was leaving him in a desperate situation. I said, “Are you sure you want to do this? I don’t see how it can possibly work.” But he insisted, “I’ll be fine until tomorrow.” The next day he had an in-home appointment for people to come by and assess his situation, see what kind of care and equipment he needed. He planned to stay in bed until then, and hopefully at that point they would send people to assist him with his needs. So we brought him a bottle of water and his urinal bottle from the rehab place so he wouldn’t have to get up to go pee, and a phone in case he needed to call for help, and left him there.
Needless to say we worried about him that night, but the next day heard from a neighbor of his that he was still OK.
Of course this got me thinking about what will become of me in my old age. But I won’t go into that. My point is just that there are enough things to worry about without watching the news. Let the people whose job it is to deal with those things, do the worrying. After all they get paid for it.
Do not worry about tomorrow, for today has worries enough of its own (Mt. 6:34). By the same token, your own life and those of your loved ones have worries enough of their own without filling your head with more things to worry about that you can’t help.