The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Oh, Why Didn't I keep My Big Trap Shut?

Glancing over it again, re-reading it almost a week after I typed it, it now seems that there is something slightly smug and self-satisfied about my last post, the one where I look back on the first six months of our full-time residence and retirement in rural Wales.  I had tried hard not to let it descend into a orgy of "ooh, look at us, livin' it large, in our rural idyll!"  but nevertheless, I still tempted fate.

I held back from congratulating myself on a half-year of easy-going ease-taking leisure (even though we've had quite a bit of it we've had our yikes! moments as well, when a well-laid plan occasionally fell at the first hurdle), but instead I tried to describe the day-to-day, the DIY, the quietly bumbling hobbies, the simple contentment, rather than any heady highlights and jollity.  It was an account of our retirement, alter all, not an over-excited primary schoolgirl essay entitled What I Did on My Holidays.

I should have been even more careful, as despite my best endeavours to avoid over-egging the pudding, it seems it has nevertheless still turned into a bit of a cautionary tale of pride coming before a fall.

Not our fall.  Not mine, or The Husband's, or even The Dog's.  Our Ma - my 95-year-old mother-in-law, who lives in residential care back where we used to live in Hertfordshire - has had a serious fall.  She took a tumble last Sunday and broke her hip.  

Our Ma in her room at the home, in April 2011, soon after moving in

Now I do realise the fact she broke her hip was entirely caused by frail bone abruptly meeting a hard floor, by her age, her gender and her pre-existing osteoporosis, and is not directly attributable in any way to my being a little bit pleased with myself when last I typed. 

Events in life do not have that sort of causality, not literally, however well-worn that axiomatic phrase about over-confidence leading to slip-ups may be.  This is not a matter of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Rather it is just one of those things that Conspiracy Theorists find themselves utterly unable to believe in - a coincidence.  It is nothing but an innocent occurence following another innocent occurrence, without being occasioned by it whatsoever.  It is random happenstance.  But when I read my previous post it still feels a mite ironic, and I chide myself now for being ever-so-slightly complacent. 

Whatever happened to that insouciant sense of cosy well-being I felt last week?  For the moment it has been sidelined somwhat by Our Ma being in hospital, having emergency orthopaedic surgery, spending three hours under general anaesthetic, and all of it happening the best part of two hundred miles away from us.  It was a very anxiety-provoking couple of days, but The Husband's sister and the ward admin kept us in the loop.  Our Ma got through the op, and hasn't needed a hip replacement.  The head of the femur was cracked, not shattered, and so metal strapping and pinning will hold it together enough to be weight-bearing, the surgeon says.  She will need another week in hospital at least, at the age she is, and maybe that will be followed by in-patient physio in a specialist unit for a while, until she is able to walk again.  Assuming she will be able to walk again.  At her very great age, nothing can be certain.  Well, at anyone's age, nothing is certain, but this uncertainty seems to be of a higher order, because she is so very frail a a little old lady now.

She has advanced vascular dementia, hence her being in residential care.  Eventually, all things being equal, she will return to her to the care home and its familiar lay-out and friendly faces, even if she has to rely on a wheelchair more and her walking frame less in future. 

Maybe the dementia is a blessing in disguise, as she is very unlikely to have made lasting new memories of the trauma and the disturbing confusion of winding up on a busy general hospital ward.  She will have a scar and bruising, but I doubt she will spend much time, if any, looking at it.  She may wonder why she is more halt than she was, and need reminding, but she won't recall the fall itself, or the pain and discomfort of it.

We will remember this week, of course.  But as outcomes of these sorts of cases go, she's doing very well so far.  Very well indeed.

I guess the experiences we've undergone between blogs will serve as an apt and timely reminder to us that being retired at a relatively early age (The Husband is 57, I am 56 next month) and in reasonable health is a boon beyond words, so let's not squander it, eh?  It also staggers me that my mother-in-law is almost forty years older than me, and yet is still staggering on. No, buggering on, in the classic, obdurate, we-don't-scare-easy Churchillian manner befitting a woman who drove an ambulance in the Blitz.

Nuff respect, Our Ma See you on Monday, when we stop by to visit Meanwhile, no chasing handsome young doctors along the corridors, OK?


  1. Fate doesn't need tempting, Baby Sis, it's quite capable of messing things up for us without any provocation whatsoever.

    I'm very glad to learn that Our Ma's hip damage wasn't as bad as was first feared, as it will hopefully make her convalescence shorter and the chances of her walking again rather better than if she'd needed a complete replacement. I hope you fend her comfortable and cheerful - a handsome young doctor would be a bonus. :-)

    As for us early retired, we're extraordinarily lucky to have been able to be so in good health and as you say, should never take the privilege for granted. Safe journey.

    1. Thanks. We will be setting off on Monday morning. Quite looking forward to a night in a hotel in Northampton (so we are nearby to go to the funeral we are attending on Tuesday morning). It is dog-friendly, so it will be The Dog's first night in a hotel of any size. He's only been to a small B&B before, way back in 2003.

  2. Hari Om
    Oh dear. Never a good thing at this age but it seems Your Ma has had the best of attention. I specialised in aged care and was always amazed at the toughness of the war generation. Can't help feeling we missed out on some of that stamina. Speaking for myself anyway.

    Hope your trip is good and cheerful. YAM.

    1. Yes, Yam, the war generation(s) were made of tougher stuff than we effete youngsters! There is a refreshing lack of self-pity about them, We'll miss them when they're all gone...

  3. I wonder how she is coping being in a strange environment with her dementia. Last time my hubby was in hospital I was most impressed that the hospital had someone sitting with him 24/7 to ensure that he didn't get out of bed and fall.

    1. That is an impressive level of care, having a dedicated attendant like that, Susan. It has been a tough week for us all, but a week on and we're all still here! Our Ma has been agitated at times, and a bit paranoid, but they must be used to dementia-sufferers needing medical care. Certainly we have had no reports of any problems beyond anything they can cope with, thankfully.

  4. Thank goodness for the NHS!
    Take mother had a hip replacement when she was 95, followed by a knee replacement the next year and she is most decidedly 'buggering on'.

  5. Oh, GOOD for her, Fly! Buggering on just about sums it up. No-one gets to 95 if they are a wimp. Old age ain't for sissies, as Bette Davies so memorably put it..