Two years and three months ago I moved my parents down to Ft. Lauderdale from Columbia, SC. They lived in SC for 100% of their adult lives. It’s been an adjustment for everyone. For them, because they had to leave everything and everyone they knew behind and adjust to a new, definitely not southern, culture. For me and my husband, we have to adjust to including them in our daily lives as opposed to just seeing them every six months. Also, one of the main reasons we moved them down here is because they are getting older and need more support than what my sister or I could provide from where either of us lived. So my husband and I became what could be considered their caretakers – loosely translated.
There have been a few challenges and fires put out these last twenty seven months, but Tuesday was especially challenging. Mom called shortly before 9:00AM saying she was taking dad to the ER because he was up all night with stabbing back pain. I agreed to meet her at the hospital as soon as I could. I knew it probably wasn’t serious, but this is why we moved them down here. My mom goes into panic mode and can barely string two thoughts together when something happens to my dad, so she needed the support more than my dad did. I arrive at the ER about 30 minutes after them, and when I walked into his treatment area I was hit with the overwhelming smell of gasoline and my mom apologizing to all the staff in the room. They had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital, and in her panic to get to the hospital, she ended up spilling gas all over herself. The back half of the ER now smelled like gasoline. Truly. The ER staff sprayed Lysol around our area. After sitting there for a few hours, she starts to rub her knee and whenever she gets up to see to my dad, she’s gimping. Come to find out when she spilled that gasoline all over herself, she slipped in the puddle it made on the ground and twisted her leg. I should mention that she is almost 74 years old. She already had one knee replaced, and looks like she’s on her way to replacing the other one.
Dad’s fine, by the way. After 5 hours, a Percocet, two IV injections of Tramadol, a CT, blood work, and urine sample which DID NOT OCCUR IN THE BATHROOM (I am moderately traumatized), we were finally sent on our way with the diagnosis of a strained muscle and lumbar degenerative disc disease. Next up was the challenge of figuring out how we were going to get my drugged up, in pain, barely able to stand, 200+ pound father to his second floor condo in the independent senior living community. I was thinking we would use one of the stolen shopping carts kept under the stairs, but I was a little premature in my planning. I agreed to follow them back to their place and we’d figure it out when we got there.
Well, this is where I go wrong. Instead of staying behind them and getting off at the same exit they got off at (because its free), I drove a little further to the shorter route exit and got off the highway there. I’m about 2 miles from their house when I get a call from dad and he garbles something about taking a detour and they’re on Flamingo and he hangs up on me. OKAY. I pull into their development and sit and wait and then my mom calls me. “The van died. I don’t know what to do, can you tell me how to find a wrecker service.” I tell her just to call AAA and they’ll send someone but in the meantime, I’m on my way. “How do I call AAA?” ….. “With the card in dad’s wallet.” ….. I really wasn’t kidding when I said she goes into panic mode and can’t put two thoughts together.
The van died sitting first in the left turn lane at a light at a very busy intersection. Have I mentioned that it is pouring rain? Of course it is…its 2:30 PM in the summer in South Florida! I pull up behind them, get out of my car (in the rain) to go steal cones from the (fortuitous) police sign, and make several trips to place them by our cars so traffic at least knows to go around us (they still honk). Next up, I have to get dad out of his car and into my car while he is pooped up on Percocet and Tramadol, in horrible pain still, and in the rain. It’s slow and steady, but we finally accomplish the task. Mom gets off the phone with AAA, and it’s going to be a one hour wait. So we wait. At some point I feel the need to ask why they were at this intersection. Were they lost since my mom never drives and dad is fucked up? Did she make a wrong turn?
They were going to the liquor store. My mother is out of wine.
I don’t really know what else to say at this point. We sat in the car for an hour and waited for Gerry from Affordable Towing to come pick up the van and take it to the auto shop. Gerry was super nice and the tow was uneventful. However when we got to the auto shop we got yelled at by a landscaper who wanted to take a shortcut through the parking lot that we were blocking. By the time all was said and done, the medicine wore off enough for us to not have to stuff my dad in a shopping cart to get him from the car to his condo. He was able to use his walker and shuffle in all by himself. Dad is feeling better. Mom is now at the doctor for her knee. And I have had a headache for the last two days from smelling gasoline for 8 hours straight. This weekend we’re all going to Disney World!