Ill-Equipped to Help

I’m going to reveal something personal that I would rather keep private, but circumstances argue I should not keep the situation to myself. If for no other reason, I need to let some people who might happen upon this post know why I may be “out of pocket” for a while.

My wife, who has had all manner of problems with weakness in her legs of late, has experienced more and more restrictions on her mobility lately. The doctors are not sharing much valuable information that might explain the causes, nor the cures (or treatments that might improve the situation). Today, at my insistence, my wife called and left a message with her cardiologist’s office, asking several questions. Late this afternoon, the cardiologist’s office called back. I picked up the phone and took it to my wife. As my wife was heading toward her office with the phone in hand, and before she had the chance to start speaking to the staffer, she tripped and fell face down onto the hardwood floor. In the process she split her lip. I quickly told the caller my wife had fallen and I needed to call for help. I hung up the phone.

I really could not get  her up off the floor without help, so I called 911. A couple of EMTs showed up ten or fifteen minutes after my call and helped my wife to her feet, then to a chair. They gave her a quick once-over and said she was okay.

A little later, though, my wife’s left knee swelled considerably. And it was bruised, badly. I had to help her move around the house; she could not get up from the toilet without assistance. She could not get up from the couch without help. We put ice packs on her knee and her leg. Maybe they’re helping. Maybe not.

The bottom line is this: I want to take my wife to the nearest clinic in the morning to have her injuries checked out. The questions for her cardiologist (and/or her primary care doctor) have not been answered. I want to know why my wife’s mobility is so poor; why she cannot get up out of a chair without help; why the edema in her legs and ankles is so pronounced and why lasix seems to do little to address the problem. And lots more questions.

I’m concerned that I may not be physically capable of looking out after her; if she were to fall again, I would not be able to get her off the floor, so I would have to call 911. It’s not just that, either. It’s mobility around the house. Everyday living that may require more physical capacity than I have. I wonder whether she needs to be treated in a rehab center, where she might be given therapy to regain the use of her leg muscles and where her badly bruised and swollen knee could be properly treated.

I probably am among the world’s least capable caregivers. And I recognize that at precisely the time I need to be among the most capable. I may be out of sight for a while. I may be learning, by necessity, how to be the person I should have been all along.

More when I know it and when I have both the time and the energy to record it. It’s just after midnight now. I feel inept and tired and frightened, all in the same breath. Goddamn it! I should be better equipped to deal with emergencies than I am. I’ve never been good at dealing with crises. It’s one of a myriad of flaws that I’m finally coming to recognize in my old age.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to Ill-Equipped to Help

  1. Thanks very much, Meg. I have heard from several members of UUVC; I’ve eschewed church communities my entire life, but this one has proven me too quick to judge. My condemnation of churches, it turns out, was based on unfortunate experience. I am evidence that one can learn even after certainty has kicked in and taken control.

  2. kozimeg says:

    John. So sorry to hear about Janine’s health problems and her fall. That’s why being part of a church community is valuable – you have people to call on when you need help. Meg

  3. Thank you so very much, JoAnn. I hope to find some answers soon.

  4. jmangi1 says:

    John, my heart goes out to you and your wife. I hope you find your answers quickly. Keeping you in my prayers.

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