Dad was admitted into the hospital for pneumonia on January 30th. On February 3, I was going in to physical therapy when Dad called and said he was going home. Mom was with her caregiver and I knew I had to be there, but I didn’t know the time frame. I decided I was going to the hospital after therapy without Mom to learn the details. Dad called me back while I was on the bike and told me to bring his clothes. I called my brother and he put them in the car.
I drove to the hospital and Dad didn’t know what time he was going home. I wanted to make sure all the referrals had been made before his discharge. He gets Home Care and I wanted to make sure it would be the same therapists who showed up before when he was discharged from rehab. I couldn’t get a hold of the social worker all day and never got a call back. The nurses station reassured me the referrals had been made. I had faith.
Dad wanted me to bring Mom and I did, but on the way to the door of the hospital, Mom’s walker/rollator caught on the sidewalk line (contraction joint) and over she went. I wasn’t strong enough to keep her from falling backward. Mom hit her head. I immediately rushed into the emergency room and asked for help. Mom was in the emergency room within minutes. A CT scan was ordered in order to check for bleeding or other signs of injury. It came out clear. The whole time Dad is calling me from upstairs asking me why Mom wasn’t there. Mom said over and over don’t tell him, don’t you dare tell him.
Dad was calling every 10 minutes and I was also trying to get in touch with the social worker at the same time and never reached her. Since I knew Dad was being discharged that day, I wanted to know what the referrals were. Home Care, OT, PT, someone to shower him, and nurse, all twice a week, were starting from the previous referral. I was promised someone would be there every day of the week so I wouldn’t have to go it alone and I would have help then and wanted the same reassurance now. I told Dad I couldn’t go up because I was on the phone trying to get a hold of the social worker.
Mom was finally discharged. She kept asking why they wouldn’t let her go see her husband. Mom still didn’t want Dad to know.
When we got to the room, Dad was eating dinner. The doctor said he would receive one more round of antibiotics and then he would go home. Not a word was mentioned about the incident downstairs.
It wasn’t until two nights later that Mom finally told Dad. They were lying in bed and through the caregiver/baby monitor I could hear the conversation. Tomorrow morning we are going to the doctor for a follow-up from the fall outside the emergency room.
This is the third night since and I have felt like the worst caregiver ever and suffered through so much guilt for days. What if? I kept wondering how this could have happened. Accidents happen; preventing them is the key. We were told that the next few weeks were critical for recovery for the hip and the pneumonia. So far Dad is following the directions, but one small misstep or error in judgment could. Well, I won’t think about it. We are watchful, careful and hopeful that Dad will be fine. But I wonder how well I can do this now.