Fall Is in the Air

I guess I come from a long line of “fallers.”

As you know, my mother has fallen several times since the one that landed her in the nursing/rehab facility in October.  The last time was in the dining room of The Hotel (retirement center) where she’s living now.

In that fall, she went over backward and conked her noggin on a table or chair on her way down.  Amazingly, nothing bad resulted from that except a goose egg on the back of her head.  The bump disappeared after a couple of days.

Now, my daughter has carried on our tradition by falling headfirst down the steep flight of stairs in her home.

(I had promised her in the past that I wouldn’t blog about any personal stuff of hers, so I’m just keeping to the bare facts here as they relate to our family propensity for not maintaining verticality.)

She and her husband had recently sold their home in town so they could move out to a place in the country on two acres.  The buyer wanted a short escrow, so they had been working like maniacs getting the water, electric and septic connections hooked up, all the while packing their stuff for the move.

Needless to say, they were pretty exhausted.

And when that happens, my daughter has a tendency to sleep-walk.

Or, in her case, sleep-fall.  Down the stairs of their two-story home.

At 2:00 am my son-in-law phoned to tell me she’d gotten up from bed (while still asleep) and taken a header down the stairs.  She was pretty banged up, with a cut upper lip (thankfully no broken teeth) and painful bruises on her chest and scrapes on her legs.

I drove into town as fast as I could and stayed at their house with the grandkids until around 4:00 when they got back from the ER.  She had a mild concussion and contusions, but nothing broken.  Whew.

In an effort at full disclosure here, I will repost my own episode of falling down some stairs that I posted on this blog a couple of years ago.

It didn’t involve sleep-walking, but it did center around Birkenstock clogs, rain, two little dogs who needed to pee, and a husband who’d warned me that Birkenstocks were the work of the Devil.





Note from the Eldercare Underground:   Escrow, Suspicion, and Random Acts of Kindness

For those of you who wished me well when I put my mother’s house on the market, I have news.

It sold—in two days.  Wow.

And, we had two offers on it–both at or near the asking price.  We went with a couple who had been looking at old houses in town for several years.  They live on a ranch west of here and wanted a weekend get-away place in our historic area.  They had no conditions attached to the offer and didn’t come back with any repair requests after they had an inspection of my mother’s 1910 era home.

Can’t beat a deal like that.

We closed escrow today, less than a month after accepting the offer.


On the suspicion front, the manager of The Hotel (retirement center) had asked me what I thought about possibly moving my mother to another room closer to the nurses’ station in the front. 

The nurses and aides have to hoof it down to her room at the end of one of the halls so often to “coax” her to do things (like eat in the dining room) and it would make their lives easier to be able to just pop into her room.

I can certainly understand their reasoning, but I knew, if asked, my mother would automatically say “no”—to me.

That’s pretty much a given with her.  I don’t think I can remember many things she has acceded to right away when I’m the one asking. 

The old “coax me” thing, again.

So.  When I broached the topic to her last week, not surprisingly, she said she didn’t want to move.

On Tuesday I had to take her to the doctor and I stopped in first to check with Sandra.  I asked her if she had spoken with my mother and she said she had asked her if she would be agreeable to moving.

She said my mother replied with:

“Was this my daughter’s idea?”

Sandra had to laugh, but she told her “No, this was my idea!”

As it turns out, the room near the nurses’ station had already been earmarked for a new gentleman, so we are in a holding pattern about switching for now.

As long as it isn’t my idea.

Random acts of kindness—My husband and I were at Walmart after closing escrow on the house today. 

(No, we weren’t going on a spending spree with the proceeds.) 

He had to get a new internet router for our computer after a recent lightning strike right over our house fried our modem and our satellite TV receiver.  The router has been a little iffy so we figured we’d start afresh—until the next bolt from the heavens.

Maybe God isn’t a big blog fan.

We were at the checkout behind an elderly lady who was in one of their motorized scooters.  I overheard her exclaim “thank you!” several times to someone, but wasn’t close enough to be in on what had occurred.

After we checked out and were walking to our car, we came upon this same lady, who was struggling to get out of her scooter.  She had several bags in its basket and we offered to help her put them in her car.

She thanked us for our offer, and while we were doing that she said “Do you know, the lady who was in front of me in line paid for my groceries!  I don’t even know her, but she paid $21 for everything I was buying.”

She went on to say that it made her feel good that there still were kind and caring people in the world.

Amen, sister.


Under the Bed and On the Market

Note from the Eldercare Underground: 

     Muscle relaxants and real estate deals edition

Well, it’s been an interesting week. 

Last Sunday my daughter phoned and said that she’d been to visit my mother at The Hotel (retirement center) and found that my mother had fallen again the day before. 

Only this time she’d somehow managed to land partly underneath her bed.

She told my daughter that she was okay—just some rug burn on her elbow and was only a little skeevy in the mid-back area.  But my daughter thought (correctly) that I should know about it, so I went over to see what was going on.

When I got there I got the same story from my mother and the same reassurances that everything was fine.  No problemo, not to worry.  She said the nurses had checked her out and didn’t find anything broken or out of whack, so I figured everything was under control.

On Thursday I stopped by around 1:00 and found my mother changing her clothes.  She said they’d made a doctor’s appointment for her for 2:00 and she needed to get ready.  Nobody had phoned me about it so I asked the manager what was up and she said my mother had been complaining about back pain and had only sporadically been coming to the dining room for her meals. 

I’m glad I just happened to be there because sending my mother off to a doctor’s appointment under her own recognizance would be like electing Michele Bachmann president—in other words, a disaster.

So I went with her and the doctor thought her back pain was mainly from muscle spasms, so she prescribed a “non-sedative” muscle relaxant, to be given twice a day as needed and authorized a request for the physical therapist to do an evaluation.

I phoned today and the manager, Sandy, said that my mother was still having her breakfasts in her room, but she was going to try to get her to move around more and come to the dining room for her other meals. 

The jury is still out on that for the time being, so we’ll have to see.

And today, I listed her home of the last twelve years for sale.

My husband had the Herculean task of cleaning the place up to get it ready, and I have to give him kudos for a job well done. 

My mother wouldn’t let us do much (if any) cleaning for her and consequently the place, especially the kitchen, had well-worn paths of grime and sticky, bacony (if there is such a word related to bacon grease) surfaces that resisted industrial strength cleaners.  The stove and range in her kitchen ended up in the metal recycling bin at the landfill, so you can just imagine.

But he prevailed and you can see the results in the photos below.  Most of her furniture either has gone to immediate family members or was taken over to her new digs at The Hotel, so the place is a bit sparse but still pretty attractive since it reflects a lot of the charm of the 1910 era home that it is.

Click to enlarge and you can see the dents in the roof from the softball-size hail storm circa 1948.

(Click to enlarge) The Van Gogh "Sunflowers" on the wall is crewel needlework that I did for my mother for Christmas 1970. (No way would I have the patience to do that now.)

(Click to enlarge) The two oil paintings here in the kitchen were done by talented friends of my mother's.

(Click to enlarge) The oil painting on the left is one my mother did and the watercolor on the right (kind of obscured by the reflection) is one I did of my parents' last home together in Laguna Beach, CA.


It’ll All Pan Out in the End

We went to the annual Christmas parade in town last night with the grandkids and had a great time.  All the entries had to be decked out with lights and they did not disappoint.

We had some light rain at times during the hour or so the parade lasted, but nobody seemed to mind.  A year long drought of epic proportions does that to you.

Afterward we high-tailed it over to McDonald’s and had dinner.  When my husband (known from here on as Pappy) took his cap off, he revealed a somewhat black and blue area near his left eye.  He’d had some minor surgery at the dermatologist’s office a couple of days before.

Now he wears a cap…not so in the sun-kissed days of his youth.

Our granddaughter (also known as Eagle-Eye Fleegle) asked what had happened to cause the bruise.

Pappy and I simultaneously (and facetiously) answered that I’d hit him over the head with a frying pan.

Miss Fleegle knows us well enough to detect that we were pulling her leg and demanded and got the truth.

This morning, I checked the news online and saw that Herman Cain had postponed his “major announcement” about the fate of his campaign from 11:00 to a little later in the afternoon.

You’ll remember that he had returned to Atlanta to face his wife for the first time since Ginger White came forward and said Herman had had a thirteen year affair with her and that Mr. Cain had admitted to giving money to Ms. White without his wife’s knowledge.

I mentioned the postponement to Pappy and he started to say:

“That’s because he had to go to the emergency room…”

which I finished for him with:

“…to have a frying pan removed from his head.”

Great minds do indeed think alike.


An Uplifting Tale of a Man and His Colon

A message from humorist Andy Borowitz:

Hello everyone,

May I be serious for a minute?

Thanksgiving is a weird time for some people. If you’re going through hard times, you might not feel that you have much to be thankful for.

Three years ago I had an experience I can only describe as nightmarish. But when it was over, I was thankful to be alive, and I still feel that way every day. I’m sharing my story with you this Thanksgiving week in the hopes that it might lift your spirits if they need lifting.

Warning: the story contains “strong language,” as they say on NPR.  But there are laughs, too, and an ending that I hope will make you feel good.  If you know of anyone out there who needs some cheering up, please share the story with them.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving.  As always, I’m thankful to have you as a reader.



I Just Flew in from L.A. and Boy, Are My Arms Tired…

Conversation between my husband and me today about the gym at the Wellness Center where I’ve been working out—

He:  “It’s nice that it’s not like a lot of the other fitness places.  You don’t have a bunch of people standing around waiting for you to finish up with equipment.”

Me:  “Yeah, that is nice.  It’s mainly old folks like us.  

[Names a few names of acquaintances.] 

When I go, there’s probably nobody under the age of 60.  No one making moves on anyone or trying to impress.”

He:  “Not exactly the singles scene, is it?”

Me:  “No.  More like the shingles scene.”

Ba-da-bum, ching!  Thank you ladies and germs!  I’ll be here all week!


Up and At ‘Em!

Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article I found at MSNBC.com on the perils of ED drugs like Viagra and Cialis, written by Judith Newman of Prevention magazine. 

She explores these drugs from the viewpoint of women on the…er…”receiving” end of their benefits. 

(I always knew those bathtubs were the Devil’s playground!)   

The problem can be especially daunting for older women who are widowed or divorced or just beginning to date after years of being alone or with one man. Certainly this was the case for Marjorie P., a 60-something woman who complained about the drugs on a 50+ Web site:

“Men have been saved from their middle-age sexual issues by Viagra and Cialis. They can be thirty again, while I have to deal with the sexual issues of being my age. It’s put the world on ’tilt.'”

Andrea D., a twice-divorced physician from Santa Monica, CA, and an over-50 dater, put it more bluntly. “Viagra has been liberating for men, but unless a woman is taking hormone therapy, she may have vaginal dryness and really not be that interested in the kind of driving, pounding intercourse he’s now capable of.”

There is also fallout from the erroneous belief that Viagra causes not just greater blood flow but also greater desire. The hormone testosterone is the driving force behind libido; a man with little or no testosterone will not have any desire to have sex, Viagra or no.

Moreover, even with normal amounts of testosterone, “Viagra does not just instantly give a man an erection,” says Abraham Morgentaler, MD, associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and author of The Viagra Myth.

“You have to be in a sexual situation, you need to have desire and intent, in order for the drug to work.”

Dr. Morgentaler tells the story of a patient who was very upset because Viagra didn’t do the trick for him.

“He said, ‘Doc, I followed your directions exactly. I took the pill an hour in advance. Then I watched a baseball game on TV and waited.’ The man’s wife was in the other room, waiting too; neither of them realized that the drug would be effective only if they were together, doing what couples do.”

Adds Andrea, whose own Viagra dating experiences and the experiences of similarly aged friends have ranged from excellent to Emergency Care Needed:

“You have to be crystal clear about what works for you and what doesn’t. Because even with someone you really, really adore … sometimes you just want to get back to reading your book!”

Your thoughts, ladies?  (And gents.)


Age: It’s All (Your) Relative

When I spoke with my son a few days before his 45th birthday last week, he seemed somewhat bummed out by the prospect of his advancing age. 

I tried to reassure him that, from my perspective of 63 (soon to be 64), he was a young whippersnapper.  To me, 45 is still youthful. 

I don’t think I convinced him.

Two days ago my husband had his 75th birthday.  He’s not big on celebrating his natal day either.  He discourages any big show of gifts and he suggested that everyone just ignore that date on the calendar. 

He felt it should be skipped over for lack of interest—his. 

But I couldn’t do that, of course, so I got him a funny card from me and the cats, and our daughter here in town got him three packages of his favorite treat this time of year—Easter Peeps.  (Those things make my teeth hurt just looking at them.  Everyone knows chocolate is the only real candy, folks.)

In an odd juxtaposition with my telling my son he’s still (relatively) young, my husband’s 92 year-old mother phoned to wish her first born son a happy 75th. 

Now, that has to be a weird feeling for her.  How many mothers live long enough (and have their children young enough) to be able to wish them that? 

Not many, I’d wager.

Last night on an episode of Roseanne,” her mother, Beverly, is considering moving to a retirement condo.  She’s 63. 

Jackie is all for it because it will get their mother out of their hair, but Roseanne is oddly reluctant.  The condo is set up for older residents, with a medical alert button on a wall in every room and the option of moving to an adjacent nursing home should the need arise.

Roseanne tells Jackie that it makes her really uncomfortable to consider their mother’s death.

Jackie:  “Come on, Roseanne!  We’ve been planning her death for years!” 

Roseanne:  “That’s plotting, Jackie, not planning.”

Beverly has her way and moves into the condo without Roseanne’s blessing.  But Roseanne drops by with a housewarming gift and the two have a chat. 

Roseanne asks her mother how old she feels inside, since she and Jackie had that conversation earlier. 

(Roseanne had said she feels like she’s still sixteen.  Jackie started to say “Twenty-…” and then amends that to “Twelve—or maybe eight.”) 

Beverly is perplexed:  “I feel like I’m 63.  I feel like a 63 year-old woman.”

After a bit more discussion about the retirement condo and the looming nursing home, Beverly hugs Roseanne and tells her not to worry. 

Beverly:  “I may be 63, but I don’t feel like I’m old.”

Roseanne:  “Yes, you are.   And you’re draggin’ me with you.”



Finally Kicking the Bucket

The unusual blast of frigid Arctic air that swept though here last week left this part of Texas, if not reeling, then at least with a new respect for the power of Mutha’ Nature.   Overnight temperatures in the low teens and single digits and wind chills that reduced those numbers even further to zero or below were the new normal we were facing. 

The first front that went through was followed by three days of highs (!) in the teens, which may sound downright balmy to our Northern cousins, but around here that is pretty damned cold. 

There was a break of a couple of days and then a second front came through, equally North Pole-ish, and dealt us the coup de grace:  many homes had frozen pipes that burst and many, many folks in the outlying countryside had water well equipment freeze up and quit working.  Ours included.

No well=no running water=no showers, no flushing toilets, no water to cook with or drink, no washing laundry, no washing dishes, no washing anything that requires water coming out of a faucet. 

They say you don’t miss your water ’til the well runs dry.  Boy, they weren’t kidding.

However, we are nothing if not prepared.  Hubby, ever the good scout, had made sure we had a good supply of drinking water on hand.  And since we have a swimming pool, we had 13,000 gallons of water from which he dipped five gallons at a time each for the two buckets we used to flush the toilets. 

Not very glamorous, but it gets the job done.

If I wanted hot water to wash my face, I heated up four cups of water in the microwave.  Ditto with a smaller amount of water to fill a spray bottle so I could dampen my hair then blow it dry to get rid of some the bed head thing I had goin’ on.  I did make a couple of trips into town to shower at my daughter’s house.  Ah, sheer bliss.

Initially, always trying to look on the bright side, hubby said: 

“Just pretend you’re camping.”

Yuh, huh…

Although I’m not as unhappy a camper as, say, Kate Gosselin was when she visited Sarah Palin in the Alaskan wilderness (“roughing it” with camera crew, production company and hair and makeup artists) I wasn’t about to smile and agree with him. 

As Damon Wayans used to say as his t.v. character, Homey the Clown: 

“Homey don’t play that.”

Then my husband offered that the early Texas pioneers and ranchers had no electricity and running water and had to use outhouses.  They all survived.

I replied “Maybe so, but they didn’t have to be anywhere either.” 

They were probably overjoyed if they saw someone other than immediate family once or twice a month.  I loved the “Little House on the Prairie” books, but I bet when Laura Ingalls Wilder had a shot at indoor plumbing, she went for it in a heartbeat.

Today the nice young man from the well driller’s company came out and replaced the offending part in the well pump control box.  He worked his magic and the precious liquid again started to flow through the pipes into the house—and most importantly—the showers and toilets. 

He said he’d been so busy that he racked up over a hundred hours with overtime, which allowed him and his wife to splurge on some new furniture. 

I say, good for him.  He deserves it.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

I’m just glad that I can finally kick the bucket—out of my bathroom.


Where There’s Smoke…

106-year-old man quits smoking — for love

Berlin — Actor and singer Johannes Heesters has given up smoking for love — at age 106.

“I did it for love, for my wonderful wife,” Heesters, who is better known as “Jopie” in Germany where he has spent most of his 90-year career, told the German entertainment magazine Bunte. “She should have me as long as possible.”

Dutch-born Heesters, who will turn 107 on Sunday, has been married to German actress Simone Rethel, 61, since 1992. Heesters said he quit smoking three weeks ago.

Heesters, who in 2008 apologised for his cooperation with the Nazi regime, is known for his roles in the film “Die Fledermaus” (1946) and the German film “The Moon Is Blue” (1953).