From the high of Jamaica (no kids, not that kind of high) I went to the low of helping my Mama heal from a fall. Not wanting to cause any kind of fuss, my mother didn’t mention toppling onto the bathroom floor one morning, and it was only a few weeks later we leaned she had been living with a broken shoulder “Yes, it’s been slightly uncomfortable” she said when the surgeon asked.
I flew back to England so together we could really see what was what. It transpired that alongside the broken shoulder my mother had a very infected arm, which she had not noticed. Once identified, I made the earliest appointment possible for her to be seen by a doctor the next day. It had been rather a mad time, between trying to be on conference calls with America, getting my mother in and out of cars, meeting my eldest son’s girlfriend for the first time (what do you wear?) and micromanaging Domino’s fractured wrist, now from 3000 miles away. You know how it goes.
It was at dinner, with cousins, that someone suggested my mother’s arm really should not be left long unattended, infection in an 87 year old arm could travel quickly. I got the fear, rang an emergency service, leapt in a cab, went back to my mother’s club, where she was sleeping, woke her up and had the doctor look at the arm. “Yes, immediate hospitalization” he said. “Certainly not” my mother replied “I am going back to sleep. Please turn out the light as you leave.”
I remember my father having a small heart attack and when the ambulance arrived he refused to get in it. “I’m not travelling in that awful thing” he said and insisted on being driven in his own car. My god, my parents were stubborn.
The next morning I went back to collect my mother, “Ooh, breakfast first” she said, “They have rather good croissants here.” As we walked into the dinning room other club members looked up from their morning papers. “I know what they are thinking,” my mother whispered to me “They think I look NINETY!” She then paused for a moment “Hmm, in three years I suppose I will be.”
Before we knew it and only a few croissants later my mother was in the hospital; drips tests, scans, specialists and consultants. “Do you have any body piercings or tattoos?” one nurse asked, as my mother went into an MRI “and can you confirm you are not pregnant?” At lunch a noodle-y salad-y thing arrived. “Look at these strange croutons” my mother said, poking at the tofu on her plate. “They’re disgusting.”
My mother became a rather popular patient, once word had spread that Queen Victoria’s great, great, granddaughter was there an endless stream of doctors passed through to inspect her.
Apparently the normal fever that would accompany such an infection does not show itself in the elderly. “Of course not” said my mother ”clearly when you are my age and closer to death the body does not bother with foolish time consuming things like fever, and I’m about ready for death after this whole hospital experience I must say.”
The MRI tests came back. All clear, all positive. “Mum” I began “we have some bad news, it appears you are going to live for quite a bit longer.”