This past week was a hard one. It started as ordinary as any other—with me writing my to-do list, creating client copy, and even planning to get in a mid-week barn day. But that all changed by Tuesday at 10 am when I was notified that my grandmother fell at the nursing home. Of course, seeing Healthcare come up on my caller ID always induces panic and fear, but more so when the call comes out of the blue as opposed to one that’s being returned to me.
As I paced around my small living room listening to the nurse’s words, I was grateful that the fall sounded minor and that no injuries were reported. Yet the call reiterated how helpless caregivers often feel in those moments—especially when they can’t be with their loved one 24/7, and other people are taking care of them. This wasn’t the first time I’d received such news over the phone. Back in October 2021, when my grandmother had just entered a facility for a sub-acute rehab stay after a week in the hospital, I was awoken at midnight to learn that she fell and had likely broken something. By morning, I learned it was her right hip, and by the time I arrived on the scene, she was being whisked off to the next hospital where she would undergo hip surgery.
Since then, she’s had other minor falls, which thankfully, did not result in any injury. I had hoped this incident would be the same, but by the time I arrived on Tuesday for my nightly visit, I could tell things were off. It was hard to discern during my visit if she had actually suffered a physical injury from the fall, as she recounted to me how she fell, but she certainly seemed sore. Any hope I had that she hadn’t broken anything was dashed by the next morning when the nursing home called to tell me that she was complaining of pain and they were going to do an x-ray. An hour later, it was confirmed that she had broken the left hip this time.
So, what’s next…Do you send a 94-year-old who is already frail and suffering from the grips of dementia into surgery? Or do you find a way to manage her pain and keep her comfortable? That’s the difficult decision I’m faced with now. And, you know what? There are no good options or outcomes with this one. All I can do is make the best decision I can that will not force my grandmother to endure any more trauma. As a caregiver, it’s a painful decision. And, as a granddaughter who has been watching this horror unfold for more than a year-and-a-half now, it is an excruciating choice that’s too painful to process.
If I’ve learned anything over these past couple of years as a caregiver, it’s how little control we have over our circumstances sometimes. Having my grandmother move into a long-term care facility was one of the last decisions I ever thought we’d be faced with, and seeing her in pain over these last couple of years has been agonizing to watch. All we can do now is work to keep her pain level down and make her as comfortable as possible for as long as we can.
Thank you to everyone who has sent prayers to us on social. They are much appreciated!