Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Balance has been one of Mom's biggest physical issues since her stroke. When she had the first stroke, she couldn't walk for a few days, and it took a lot of physical therapy to get her back on her feet. She's had at least one, and possibly more strokes since then. Her left side is almost completely numb. It is difficult for her to walk, difficult for her to get out of a chair, difficult for her to carry things in her left hand. She says that she can hold stuff in her left hand, but only if she really concentrates on keeping her fingers in a death grip on the item. When she does that, she can't concentrate as well on her walking.

Have I ever mentioned Mom has a fierce independence and a stubborn streak that rivals the entire 20-Mule Borax Team?

So, she insists on walking, insists on getting out of her chair without assistance, insists on carrying two cups of coffee at a time.

I'm learning that it's not entirely a bad thing. The neurologist told us that she needs to exercise the parts of her brain that were injured by the stroke, and that anything she can do for herself, I should let her do. And I've been getting a lot better at standing back and letting her do things. She's back to putting out the (greatly reduced number of) supplements each morning. I've been asking her to help with things when I'm making dinner or supper (that's lunch and dinner, for those of you who don't know Rural Town-speak). For a couple of weeks, I even let her make breakfast by herself.

Then, she fell.

It was Christmas Eve. We had five extra people in the house for the holiday, and with five extra people comes five extra people's stuff. So, the piles in the house grew larger than usual. Mom was walking from the living room into the kitchen when she stubbed her toe on something and toppled to the floor. She caught herself with her left arm.

My son and I picked her up from the floor and got her settled in her recliner. I brought an ice pack and checked to make sure she could move her fingers and wrist. I called my sister, an EMT, to ask her opinion. And then, finally, gave in to Mom's insistence that she didn't need to go to the hospital.

The next morning, I couldn't believe the bruises Mom had! Her wedding rings had come off the night before because of the swelling, and her whole hand was a big bruise from where they had hit something on the way down. A crescent bruise on in inside of her elbow suggested she'd landed on a 2-litre soda bottle cap. And almost her entire forearm was bruised.

She still insisted that she didn't need to go to the doctor. She's still in physical therapy, and the therapist has been helping with the wrist, now, too. She also says Mom's balance is worse than it was when she started seeing her in September, and that is probably what made her fall.

Mom has been resting more, and sitting with Dad watching TV or shows on DVD (we recently bought them a season of Little House on the Prairie and I Love Lucy). Dad has been more talkative lately (which I will get into in another post), and that helps Mom to not minding resting. When she complained that she should be helping, Dad encouraged her, saying, "You've worked hard for 80 years. Now, you get to retire."

I hate to say her getting hurt was a good thing, but it has helped her to rest and not work all the time. I wouldn't have wished the pain on her, but at least it has come with some positive consequences.

I got another Bonus Task out of the deal--Mom used to wash all the dishes. It was good physical therapy for her, and it sure helped me a lot. But rather than taking this Bonus Task on myself, I delegated it. My son is now in charge of dishes.

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