My 99-year-old grandmother broke her hip five weeks ago -- we think.
She had been mentioning, quote: "some discomfort" unquote, but didn't say anything at all about "horrible screaming agony", so the family was bunging Tylenol down her, which seemed to do the trick.
Well, Mom got kind of worried, so she took Gran over to the witch-doctor, who talked to Gran, and came to the conclusion that Gran had probably mildly strained a muscle.
Hah, I say. Hah.
"Just as a precaution" the doc arranged for an X-ray, and Mom said that when the film was developed, the doctor showed up at a sprint with a stretcher and admitted her right there.
Imagine that little ball on the top of your thigh-bone is a globe. Gran somehow, somewhere, somewhen, managed to neatly split that globe at the equator.
Since the northern hemisphere hadn't displaced any, and given that Gran is, well, literally 99 years old, the doctor decided to keep her in bed at the hospital and see if the bone would knit on its ownsome.
Well, the nurses tucked Gran into her bed, left the room to get an admissions kit, came back and the bed was empty.
They caught up with her at the front door.
The doctor gently explained to Gran that her hip was broken. Gran gently explained to the doc that she had things that needed doing at the house.
The doc told Gran that if she displaced that section of bone, surgery was the only remedy. Gran allowed the staff the wheel her back to the bed.
An hour or so later, they brought Gran lunch. Five minutes later the hospital cook called the nurses station and asked if they might be short a patient.
Apparently Gran decided that her chicken required more sage, and went walkabout looking for some.
The cook faithfully promised not to send anymore bland food to Gran's room.
The staff took a wheelchair to the kitchen, re-explained the part about surgery to Gran, and wheeled her back to her room.
Nobody had thought about giving her a painkiller at this time, because she wasn't complaining of any pain.
At three o'clock the flowers started to arrive.
At three-thirty, the duty nurse looks up and sees someone in a purple robe carrying a bunch of flowers trundle into a room, there is a brief pause, and then my purple-bathrobe-wearing grandmother comes out -- after having given the person occupying that room some flowers -- and disappears into the next room.
Almost at the point of tears, the duty nurse fetches my grandmother, duly promises to properly distribute the excess flowers and rolls Gran back to bed.
Sometime after this, the next shift arrives and are briefed regarding the Gran Situation.
Next shift puts their heads together and decide that they're going to Take Steps: they catheterized Gran.
Flushed with victory, they return to the nurses station, just in time to witness my four-foot, ten-inch grandmother place the neatly-rolled, self-extracted catheter on the station desk, while announcing -- quite firmly -- that she was perfectly capable of going to the bathroom like a civilized human being, thank you very much.
They folded. Wimps.
"Nana," I suggested, sometime during the next couple of weeks, "You need to tell someone when you're hurting."
She squared her little shoulders, fixed me with a gimlet eye, and very firmly stated: "Ladies and gentlemen do notburden others with their pain. It is discourteous, it is rude, and it is simply Not. Done."
"Yes, Nana, but you're in a hospital. Their job is to deal with your pain. They get paid for it. That is one of their reasons for being here."
"Oh," she blinked for a moment, "In that case, I do have some discomfort."
Anyhoo, Gran spent the next two weeks in the hospital, ostensibly on bed-rest, until the doc figured that the bone had had enough time to knit, then they sent her home.
Bedrest for four to five weeks.
Do you think her family had any more success with keeping Gran in bed than the hospital staff did?
Anyhoo, ten days ago, Gran didn't get out of bed in the morning. A little concerned, Mom went in to ask her if she was okay, and Gran told Mom that she was "In pain."
Mom broke multiple nails hammering the numerals 9-1-1 into the phone.
The doctor was waiting at the ER entrance, and hopped into the back of the ambulance before the driver even got out of his seat.
"Ma'am," asked the doctor, "Are you okay?"
"It hurts," she replies.
"Right. Take her to the big regional hospital."
"But," responds the nonplussed medicos, "We haven't gone inside ... she's still loaded ... you haven't done ... How do you ...?"
Somehow, she managed to displace the top half of the ball half the diameter of the joint.
She slowed down at the big ER long enough for X-Rays, then went right into the next open OR. Complete replacement of the top one-third of her right femur.
She was back in our small-town hospital two days later.
Yesterday, she rode over to the big hospital for her ten day check-up, and if she completes her physical therapy this week, she'll be coming home.
At 99. And other than that one day, she hasn't complained of any pain.
Sweet shivering Shiva, I hope I'm half that tough when I'm 99.
I'm off to ride herd on Gran at todays physical therapy session.