Friday, August 13, 2010

The road home, and the drama that ensued there.

So, like I said, Denise and I got up early Saturday, loaded the car full of the spoils of a two week adventure and started the LONG drive home. As we figured it, with the requisite number of stops averaged in, we were probably gonna roll into the driveway here in Killeen at maybe midnight.

We hit Nashville and started rollin' west at around 11:20AM. Memphis whizzed by about three or four hours later, and by the time we back on I-30, south of Little Rock, it was time to eat dinner. There's a place there that's been special to me for a long time.

Back in my old canoeing days, when I used to make regular trips up into the Ozarks to run the Buffalo National River (that's me in the back, circa 1991, steerin' the boat past Grey Rock), our group would always hit the buffet at Brown's on the way home. We'd be stinky and bewhiskered after three or four days on the river, and then roll into the parking lot there in Benton just in time to rub elbows with the well dressed folks who'd decided to come to Brown's for a Sunday meal after church. They'd look at us like we were outlaw bikers, or homeless, and then send us to some back room to eat. We'd fill up. Man, those were good times, and great folks that I ran with in those days. I miss them all!

I always regain Denise with these stories when we roll by. We stopped here a few years back, on the return leg of another road trip, but we both agreed the food was not what I remembered. So, I was surprised when she agreed to give it one more try. As we rolled into the parking lot I could see the canoe trailers in the back parking lot in my minds eye. So many memories.

We went in, paid for our dinner, and then I got situated in the line while Denise hit the restroom. That's 50 feet of buffet. They claim 100, because you can hit it from ether side.

You start out with salad items, and then steadily shift from one entree to another, and then through every sort of main dish you'd see at a Cracker Barrel. Only it's an all-you-can-eat buffet. My thing, back in the day, was to go through three plates; salad plate, dinner plate, and dessert plate. You should see the Ice Cream Sundays I used to make, pilin' up the vanilla ice cream from the machine, and then coverin' it with chocolate, fudge and chopped nuts. Mmmm, yep, it was good.

But something's happened in the fifteen or so years since those canoe trailers used to roll into that parking lot. Just like last time, Denise and I were both disappointed with what we had that Saturday. I don't know. Maybe it was the whole experience back then, the I-haven't-had-a-real-bath-in-four-days element, or the group psychology, that made the earlier experiences so much better. Or shit, maybe they've just lost a step in the years since then. Anyway, whatever it is, I'm not plannin' to go back. I can't say never. Never say never. But I doubt I'll ever be able to talk Denise into it, and I doubt I'll try.

After we rolled out of Brown's, it was a steady grind though the rest of Arkansas and into Texas. We stopped for gas at a Wal Mart just south of Dallas at about 10:15 PM. As we put the car back into gear, thinkin' we'd be home by 1:00 AM or so, my mom called. She told me she wasn't feelin' so good, and asked me if we'd stop by her place on the way home and bring her some Alka Seltzer. I told her we certainly would, but it'd be 12:30 or so by the time we got there. She said she didn't mind, so we got back on the road.

When we got to mom's place and saw how sick and miserable she really was, we insisted that she let us take her to the emergency room at Scott and White, the big local hospital that dominates the local skyline and economy. Once we got her there, it was clear that we were probably going to be there all night. I tell ya, I was pooped, but the emotions that were surging through me, seeing my mother in pain and wondering what the hell was going on, it's a wonder I wasn't a blubbering fool.

In the end, it turned out mom was VERY constipated and was suffering from a mild UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). They were also afraid that she might have a little spot of Pneumonia on one lung. So, around 7 AM (remember, we left Vine Grove at about 8:45 AM the day before), we took momma back home and put her into bed. On the way there, we stopped at the drive-through at Walgreens to get the two anti-biotic prescriptions the doctors had given her. By 7:30 we were puttin' her to bed and givin' her her pills. We decided then that rather than go home, 30 minutes or so away, we'd just bed down there and see how mom was doin' before we left her by herself. So, Denise went upstairs to bed and I hit the couch in the living room.

The next thing I remember I was waking up, surprisingly refreshed, at about noon-thirty. I looked in on mom and saw that she was still asleep, and then turned on the TV to wait for Denise to wake up. After another hour or so, Denise came walking down the stairs, asking me how mom was doin'. I went back in there and was surprised to see that mom was not in bed. I walked further into her bedroom and saw that the bathroom door was closed.

That's when the smell hit me. It turns out the two antibiotics combined have the effect of causing diarrhea. Well, with mom being so constipated, we thought that wouldn't be an issue. But it turned out that mom was too weak, from the nights drama and from her bad hip, to be able to get to the bathroom in time. It was a mess.

Long story short, Denise and I spent the next few hours cleaning the up the mess and getting mom cleaned up and back into bed. She was so embarrassed by the whole thing, but I asked her "How many damn times have you cleaned my mess in the last 49 years?" You know, it's my turn to help her now, and there's nothing I wouldn't do. But it's a good thing Denise was there. She went into the bathroom with mom, when we finally got her to open the door (she was humiliated and didn't want anyone to see the mess), and she got mom cleaned up while I started cleaning up the mess in the bedroom.

Eventually we called mom's housekeeper, a woman who's been helping my mom out for fifteen years and is basically part of the family. She cussed me for not callin' her earlier, and then came over and helped take care of mom and clean up what we'd missed while Denise and I went home and tried to unload and relax. It was 5:30 PM, Sunday evening, when we finally rolled into our driveway. That's what, something like 33 hours since we left Vine Grove Saturday morning? Sheeeeit, we was POOPED!

And it wasn't really over ether. Mom called me Tuesday morning at around 1:30AM and told me she'd fallen and couldn't get herself back up into bed. She'd been crawling around on the floor for half an hour trying to get to the phone. I got some clothes on and hit the road, leaving Denise at home. She's got to get up and go to work, and I told her I could handle it. Remembering the cussin' I got before, and knowing that she could get to mom much faster than I could, I called mom's housekeeper. Sure enough, by the time I got there Helen had come and mom was sittin' on a little stool she uses to help herself up into bed.

Bein' the Sasquatch that I am, I quickly reached down and grabbed mom around the waist and tried to lift her up and into bed. As I did she screamed out in agony. Her hip joint, which has no cartilage and is in dire need of replacement, was sending jolts of pain down through moms led and groin. Her creams scared the piss out of me, but I got her mostly onto the bed before I could stop. From there, mom was able to gently, carefully crawl back up onto her bed.

Apparently, the legacy of the diarrhea and trauma of Sunday had weakened mom to the point where, having fallen, she had no strength in her arms and legs to right herself, as she usually does. There's no tellin' how many times she's fallen and never told anyone, and it's all because of that FUCKING hip. I wish to GOD she'd get it replaced, but there's no way I could or should force her to. It's her body, it's her life, and it's her decision.

She's 82 years old, and is sensibly concerned about the trauma such an operation would have on her system. Her doctor wants her to have it done, as I do, but I learned a long time ago that I might as well piss into the wind as try to talk one of these women in my family into doin' ANYTHING they don't want to do. It's endlessly frustrating, but that's life.

Since then, mom has gotten stronger and is feeling much better. I went with her to see her hip doctor a week ago and was encouraged to hear her say they if she could get stronger and feel better, she might decide to go ahead and have the operation in a month or so, but since then she's backtracked. Like I said, I just shut my mouth and tell her I'll support whatever decision she makes.

That's much of the drama I've been dealin' with since I got home from the road trip, but it's FAR from all the drama. Just wait. It's like a friggin' bomb has gone off in my life, but I'll wait and tell you about all that in the next post. Until then, take care of yourselves. We'll talk. Cheers!


Sarge Charlie said...

100 feet of food, you had to be in heaven.

BRUNO said...

At least it's close-enough to the ceiling that he couldn't vault back-and-forth over it!

Although to be honest, he'd more likely go THROUGH-it, anyway!

Kinda like a linebacker goin' into the "paper-wall", during the team-intro start of the game...!!!

FHB said...

It was OK, but not what it once was.

BRUNO said...

Yeah, that new-roll of Fortuna-wire they strung-out when they saw YOU pull-in kinda made it a bitch to "belly-up to the(salad)bar", eh...???☺

FHB said...

Damn straight.

*Goddess* said...

FIFTY FEET OF BUFFET ON EITHER SIDE??!! OMG! I thought Ryan's puny spread was Heaven! Now I realize I'm just in purgatory, WAITING to experience Heaven:)

Hope your mom is ok. I remember when my dad fell and Mom got someone to help him up. He refused to go to the hospital. A few days later, he just dropped. Turned out he fractured his hip when he fell the first time, so you have to be so careful. But I don't blame your mom one iota for being afraid of the surgery. Hell, my BP goes up just thinking about going to the eye doctor for an exam!