Thursday, January 15, 2009

Instincts and Regretting a Cereal Bowl

Have you ever had a moment you would like to redo?

A single moment you realize would have change the outcome of an event.  Letting that car go ahead of you rather than blocking the intersection.  Stopping to answer the phone before running out the door.  Not taking the elevator when the person inside creeped you out.

We all have moments like this.  Some seemingly small decision that leads you to a certain event.  A decision, a moment, that you wish you could do over to change the outcome of that event.

Well, I had that moment about 10:00 last night.

The news was just coming on and my mom had gone into the bedroom to call my step-dad (he’s out of town on business).  I heard a noise sounding like a door closing, but that’s not what it was.  I heard it 2 or 3 times earlier in the day and I figured it had something to do with the frigid cold and things expanding or whatnot.  (The noise was completely unrelated to what comes next.)

I heard it a few times and decided to get up and check it out.  It sounded like it was coming from downstairs.  Before I stood up, I heard my grandma’s walker.  She was going to the bathroom.  I stood up and put my slippers on to go downstairs to check.  I noticed a bowl on the end table from some cereal I had as a snack about a half hour earlier and decided to take it to the kitchen before going downstairs.

That is the moment I wish I could do over.  Forgetting the cereal bowl and going straight downstairs.  If I hadn’t taken the cereal bowl to the kitchen, I would have gotten there in time.

After putting the bowl in the kitchen sink, I went down the stairs and by the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, I heard a thud and then my grandma yelled.  I pulled the bathroom door open because I thought she was in there.  The heat lamp was running and the door was closed.  It was also the first door I reached.

She wasn’t in there.  She was in her bedroom.

Normally, I hear her walker both going to and from the bathroom.  Last night I only heard it once, so I assumed she was in the bathroom.  (I have hearing like a dog; I hear the slightest sounds and generally know what it is and where it is coming from.)

I missed the sound of her walker entering the bathroom and only heard it going back to her bedroom.

My grandma has a potty chair in her bedroom.  She had in there before we built the bathroom that is right outside her door now.  She keeps it in there now because, at nearly 90 she doesn’t always make it from her bed to the bathroom in time, so she keeps the potty in her room.

My mom has told her many times that if she goes in the potty, to just leave it and she will empty it for her.  My mom is a saint and is accustomed to dealing with excrement of all kinds from adults because she cares for my bedridden uncle and she cared for my step-dad’s father before he passed.

My grandma is stubborn.  Stubborn is an understatement, actually.

I don’t understand why she felt the need to empty the potty last night.  She hasn’t felt well for a few days.  Not sick, but in a lot of pain.  Even though I cleared her room to let the heat flow and it is now nice and warm in there, the frigid temperatures bother her arthritis and she has been in bed most of the time because of the pain.

Because of that, it surprised me she was going into the bathroom when I heard her.

I imagine that she is wishing to redo that moment, the decision to empty her potty.

The noise I heard, which caused her to yell out, was her falling.  She had gotten back into her room and replaced the potty.  Instead of just getting into bed and leaving it at that, she decided to park her walker out of the way.  That is where the trouble began.  

She might be wishing to redo that moment, actually.

When I heard the thud, I called out to her before I opened the bathroom door.  She says she was calling me when she fell.  She says she doesn’t know why she was calling me instead of my mom.  She actually wasn’t calling me.  She yelled out once.  She might have been saying my name softly or thinking it, but I never heard my name.

When I didn’t see her in the bathroom, I ran the few steps to her room and flung the door open to see her sitting on the floor shaking.

She was on her way back to her bed.  She holds on to the dresser as she walks back.  She lost her footing and tried to grab something to hold onto but she was already down.  She says she fell flat on her back, but I know she didn’t.  She couldn’t have because where she was sitting, there were too many things behind her.  She also couldn’t sit up that quickly on her own.

I yelled to my mom upstairs, but thought she might not hear me so I pounded on the ceiling.

My mom did hear me.  She heard the thud too and thought I was putting out the bag of clothes for Amvets.  She thought the thud was the door.  She heard me yell and thought that someone grabbed me.  

Between the two of us, we got her up.  Thank God.  My step-dad is out of town, so if we couldn’t get her up, I’m not sure what we would have done.  Grandma kept crying that she didn’t know how she was going to get up.  

She fell about a year and a half ago.  We had been moving my uncle and we were all over at his new place, except grandma.  She was at home, but we had her stay upstairs so she could go to the bathroom (the bathroom downstairs was just a dream then) or sit in the living room or whatnot.  We had been there longer than we expected and we were winding down when I just had this feeling.  I told everyone I was leaving to check on grandma.  

They seemed a little surprised because it was so sudden, but they said okay.  I hurried home, which is only about 5 minutes away, and I kept envisioning her on the floor.  I opened the front door and I called to her and asked where she was.  She answered that she was on the floor.  She had been there for about a half hour and didn’t have a phone with her.  I called my mom and had her send my step-dad and brother-in-law.  The two of them got her up that time.

Grandma knew it took two men last time, so she was worried we couldn’t get her up.  

We kept reassuring her and trying to calm her.  I bent her legs for her so her feet were on the ground.  My mom got on one side, I got on the other, and I prayed for strength.  

We got her on her feet and she said she was slipping so I lifted my leg using my knee to give her some support.  Thankfully, we managed to get her in bed.

She was in so much pain and just crying.

I rubbed her back for her and we gave her some of her vicadin.  I was worried she broke something.  So far, I don’t think she did.  She is bruised and I am sure she pulled some muscles, but she has been able to get out of bed to use her potty on her own, so I think she is okay.  Her arms are bruised up and her back hurts her very much, but I don’t think anything is broken.

I don’t doubt she is in pain, but my grandma is the type that is proof the placebo effect works.  She is very much mind over matter with certain things.  I used to make aromatherapy products.  Mostly for myself, but I would sell things to people also.  

Therefore, I have essential oils on hand.  I always have lavender oil, which is like the Advil of the essential oils.  Since I didn’t have anything mixed and she needed something right away, I grabbed my lavender oil and rubbed some on her back.  
(Lavender oil is one of very few that can be applied neat – meaning it doesn’t need to be diluted in a lotion or base oil like grapeseed before being applied to the skin.)

My grandma thinks I am brilliant and that I can do anything.  She asks me everything and I can tell her things to get her to do something or agree to something that if my mom said the same thing, Grandma would refuse.  To her, I do everything just right, so the lavender oil helped her.  Whether it did physically, she believes it did and that is all that matters.

All night, I kept thinking, if I just hadn’t taken the damn cereal bowl to the kitchen, I would have gotten to her before she fell.  I know it’s not my fault.  I didn’t cause her to fall.  I may not have gotten to her in time.  I might have only gotten there to see her go down, but I still feel bad.  I don’t normally have regrets, I think it’s a silly waste of time, but I can’t help but regret that cereal bowl.

What I am really irritated with myself about is that I didn’t go with my gut.  Like that time a year ago when I knew she’d be on the floor when I walked in, I had a feeling when I heard her walker.  My gut was flashing a red alert in my head, but my brain said, ‘she’s in the bathroom, she’s okay, just take the bowl to the kitchen now so you don’t forget later.’

I learned along time ago to trust my gut, so I am irritated that I let a cereal bowl derail that instinct.

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