My husband’s stepmother (M) was on her way to a basketball game when she tripped and fell face first on cement. In that instant, our lives changed forever, we just didn’t know it yet.
After the accident the only real damage evident was the loss of all her front teeth. She was recovering and was going to be fitted with a bridge, but during her follow-up with her physician to discuss other symptoms she was having, they found that she had dangerously low sodium. Low sodium can cause swelling, for the most part that’s not dangerous, but “when the cells of the brain swell, it’s much more detrimental. Because the brain cells are so tightly confined by the skull bones, even a small amount of swelling can be dangerous. This is particularly dangerous when sodium levels drop rapidly, causing brain cells to swell rapidly, Without immediate medical treatment, this rapid swelling could lead to coma and death.” (1) M was quickly admitted to the hospital, however, she was nearly comatose before they could lower her sodium levels.
The severe drop in sodium caused havoc with her body, we knew she would require physical rehabilitation. However, when her sodium levels returned to normal, it was obvious there was something still wrong.
M was having severe issues with her memory. She could read, but she couldn’t comprehend what she was reading. There was further testing, and it was found that she had a tiny subdural hematoma. (later is was determined that the hematoma was worse than initially thought) There was also talk of Alzheimer’s, as this runs in her family. (from what I understand she was having minor memory issues before the accident)
Soon it became apparent that M would need long term care. She is not expected to make a full recovery. She will be entering a long term care facility in less then 6 weeks, and her children plan to sell her house in 6 months. I’m not sure if they are selling it because the may need funds, because she is not expected to ever come home, or because it would not be a safe place if she ever did come home because as it is a split level and she has to be very careful not to fall, or a combination of the 3. She also has osteoporosis and they’ve warned if she breaks a hip or something, they can’t do anything for it and most people often die from it. (no, her children are not kicking dad out, this was decided by all involved)
M is one of the most logical people I know. She was a computer programmer for years. That’s pretty amazing since she is in her late 70’s and computers have come a long way in the last few decades. She took out a long-term care policy years ago, knowing that Alzheimer’s runs in her family; she wanted to make sure things were taken care of if she also got it later, I wish Stuart had been able to get a policy like that, the insurance will cover all of the cost of the facility, and it’s expensive. I never dreamed that a good assisted living facility would cost $6000 a month. From what I understand, this place is just wonderful. They even have dog and horse therapy.
Stuart’s father (Dad) and M got married about 7 years ago, about 7 years after Stuart’s mother passed away. (I’m really not sure about the exact time in there) He moved in with her and they have been living in her house. This is a major life change not only for M, but also for “dad”. “Dad” does own 3 houses of his own, but someone is living in 1 with the option to buy, 1 is too far out of town for him to travel to the facility M will be in, and the last one needs some repair. He plans to sell the last one within the next year. So “dad” has to find a new place to live.
We’ve been discussing quite a bit recently, before the accident, about where we’d like to make our forever home, where we’d like to eventually retire. (well, when Stuart retires, I haven’t been able to work in years) After hearing this news about M, we’ve decided to actively pursue moving to Tucson, AZ. We have family and friends there, it’s warm there year round, and housing is less expensive. We’ve discussed this briefly with dad and it sounds as if he would really like us closer. We plan look for a house that has some kind of room for a guest to live-in; a guest house or little apartment would be ideal; that way dad can live with use without feeling like he is intruding on our marriage. I’ve looked up doctors and I’m please with the possibilites. I even found a group that supports adults with hearing loss. Now, Stuart just has to find a job.
This is a major life change for everyone in our family.
It’s a lot to process.
In a moment, everything can change….drastically.