My father-in-law, age 78, went out to lunch by himself the other day. In the parking lot on the way back to his car, he fell, striking his head on the pavement. As he was pretty far from the door of the restaurant, no one inside saw this happen. Stunned, he lay there for a minue or two, until a young man spotted him and came over to help him up. The young man was unable to get Dad on his feet, so he sat on the pavement next to him until he spied someone else. He called a lady over to help and between the two of them, they managed to get Dad up and into his car.
The lady, as it turned out, was a nurse, and she did a spot-check on Dad, asking him his name, how many fingers am I holding up and so forth. She told him to sit tight, then went into the restaurant. A few minutes later, she returned with a bandaid for his head and this bit of information: as the fall didn’t happen on restaurant property, but rather in the parking lot that is shared by several other businesses, the restaurant did not want to take responsibility for calling an ambulance. Dad, being a stubborn ol’ coot, insisted that he didn’t need an ambulance anyway. The nurse was skeptical, but Dad was adamant, and after reassuring herself that he was not too seriously injured, she told him to be careful driving.
He arrived home shortly thereafter, and for some reason, my mother-in-law came out to the garage - she hadn’t heard him pull up, and it was not usual for her to be in the garage, but fate or whatever got her there in the nick of time. As Dad tried to get out of the car, his arm gave way and he sort of just fell out of the car. Mom, who is 76 and none too steady herself, managed to get him into the house, then she called me.
Seven hours in the ER, and we finally find out that Dad has a concussion, a broken ankle and a pinched nerve in his shoulder. The ER docs wrap his ankle in gauze and send him home. Once home, we have to get Dad up the stairs into the house (a split level) and down the stairs into the family room, where we unfold the sofabed and park him in a chair. This process took us close to an hour.
NOW for the rants: You stupid restaurant. So you don’t want to end up liable, you refuse to call an ambulance. You turn your back on an obviously injured old man because you’re worried about your insurance. Boneheads.
Nurse, whoever you may be: Thanks for helping Dad up, but it was NOT a good idea to let him drive. I know he’s not your patient or your responsibility, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to call the ambulance yourself, or get a number and call his family, rather than let this man, bleeding from a serious head wound and unable to stand on his own, drive himself?
You stupid hospital. You asked if he had anyone at home, and when he said “my wife” did it ever occur to you that his wife might be someone of the same approximate vintage (i.e. elderly) and sending a 235 pound man who is unable to walk home might not be in anyone’s best interest? And even though his obviously healthy daughter-in-law (all 100 pounds of her) was willing to help, once you saw he was unable to get back into the car without being lifted in, it should have occured to you that said 100-pound daughter-in-law wasn’t likely to be able to get him OUT of the car alone either! And when I asked for info on home nursing, wheelchair rental and such, I did not appreciate being told to call his primary care physician the next day to find out what might be covered under Medicare. I needed some way to get the poor man out of the damn car!
And you, dear father-in-law: It’s time to stop driving, dammit. It’s time to sell that behemoth of a three story house and get you and my dear mother in law into assisted living! You have the info, and you agreed that, especially since she is now sliding down the stairs on her butt and crawling up the stairs on her hands and knees and has 2/3 of the house closed off because neither of you can get around like you used to, you agreed that it was time to unload some of the burden. But you didn’t. I love you guys and am more than willing to come over daily and help you, but “you don’t want to bother” me. You don’t want to move in here because you feel like you’d be a “bother.” Well, I am bothered now, because I can’t sleep for worrying about you!
(Whew. OK I am done now.)