Old bones are different.
I don’t fully understand what that means.
The day after Momma fell, I expected her to be stiff and in pain. Indeed, she was. I coaxed her to walk and encouraged her to endure. She resisted. I promised to take her to the mall if she would force herself to get dressed. She took the bait. I went to work for a while to avoid the incessant moaning while she got ready.
The journey from her room at the back of the house to the car was unbelievably long. I didn’t think it was possible for a human to move so slowly. The first step out of the house was accompanied with a shocking scream that stopped us both.
“OK. Let’s refigure this,” I said. “There’s one more step till we get to the garage, then two more down to get to the car. Hold on to me,” I directed, moving past her to stand facing her. I took hold of her elbows and pressed firmly against them to help lower her to the next step. She grimaced something awful and screamed again.
“Oh, Mom, this isn’t good.”
“Oh no, I’ll be fine.” Stubborn and in denial, she lied. (But I shouldn’t use that word.)
“OK. Let’s refigure this again.” My strategizing cap was on. I revel in creative problem-solving, so I was on board if she was.
She had fallen on her right hip, so I thought she should lead with her left foot. At the next set of steps, I went backwards in front of her and took her weight from the left foot. That was better, but still, she screamed. It was slightly softer though, so with the garage door shut, I was pretty sure the neighbors didn’t hear that one.
To get into the car, she put her back to the open door and held onto my hands. I pulled against her weight and eased her into the front seat.
Feeling victorious, we headed out to the mall. We reversed and repeated our movement strategies to get into JC Penney, jaunt around the bedding section near the back door like two snails in Eskimo garb, and return home.
That night I was recanting the story to Kendal, grandchild #4, who is also a doctor.
“NO! Old bones are different!” She said it so emphatically that I pulled the cell phone away from my ear. “Grandma could have a hairline fracture and by walking on it, she could end up with a broken hip! You’ve got to get that thing X-rayed!”
One day two after the fall, we did the whole getting-in-the-car thing again and went to the Imaging Center for an X-ray. It turns out her bones are fine - old, but fine.
That’s good, of course, but I’m not happy: What have I gotten myself in to? I know nothing about caring for old bones! Momma seems to have rubber bones, but I know she’s not resilient. I’m not capable of this responsibility.
Momma falls a lot. She always has. So do I. How am I to know when to be tough? When to let up? When to worry? When to push? Just how different are old bones anyway?
Come to think of it, I don’t know how to take care of any bones, old or not.