We flew back from Singapore end of last week, just as restrictions were being lifted over Heathrow. Arrived home to find my parents who had been looking after The Boy and The Girl had scrubbed the house from top to bottom, made friends with all the neighbours and managed to lure The Boy out of his fetid pit of a room by constantly cooking his favorite food.
Home they go and I marvel particularly at the way my 76 year old mum is so zippy and fit despite the hip operation and is it down to her good diet or the vitamin pills she has taken all her life or or or . . . .
Two days later dad calls. Mum has fallen backwards down the stairs and is in the Intensive Care Unit with a fractured bone in the neck and bleeding on the brain. It’s quite serious he says somewhat unnecessarily. My sister and I throw a few things into a suitcase and belt down to the coast.
The ICU is surprisingly noisy and very bright but staffed by lovely cheerful people who tell us the truth yet manage to keep an optimistic air. Mum is a mass of tubes and machinery, her head encased in gym mats to keep her neck still. The only broken bone is in her neck and it’s a ‘good break’. She may have been unconscious when she fell. It might have been a cerebral hemorrhage or a stroke. I think of those stairs, wooden and steep and shudder.
Dad keeps getting up to do things, arrange things, fetch things. We stroke mum’s hand and speak to her loudly. It feels stupid and patronising. The nurses say she might be able to hear us. After a while we go back to the house for a few hours sleep. The next few days are taken up with sitting by her bed. I talk to one of the doctors about the crash trolley. They use plasters not big brick like defibrillators. We drink tea and burble to mum. I’ve brought my laptop and stare at it.
On day three, Rachel, one of the utterly brilliant nurses is trying to persuade mum to drink more juice and mum mumbles what we think is Feck off. This cheers us. Her first swear word! And mum hardly ever swears. Then they take her off for another head scan. Later we are told it could go either way. I long to put mum’s dentures back in but they keep slipping out. And yet her face is smooth and baby soft. She looks so young. And I can’t help thinking that after a lifetime of endless and unnecessary dieting she’d be so pleased to be losing pounds. The nurses are fretting about her lack of appetite but she would be delighted. If she knew where she was.