Monday, May 4, 2009

The Scales Tip

For years the fact that Mother took "Stubborn as a Mule" to a new level had been frustrating, but her independence was the only thing keeping me from total self-destruction. I was smart enough to know that I was walking a razor thin line between a demanding job, two teenagers who were in various stages of crisis, and a marriage that was suffering, if not crumbling, under the pressure. I always thought that I could keep it together as long as nothing else got added to my plate, so I was grateful and proud that Mother made her own friends, ran her own errands and amused herself apart from the rest of us. I always knew it wouldn't last, but I prayed it would wait until the kids were grown and out of the house. (By the way, I didn't manage to keep it together, but those are completely separate, complicated stories.)

Anyway, the immediate aftermath of the wreck was that stubborn streak was ratcheted to a whole new level. Mother refused to go to the hospital, but was complaining of a pain in her side. The paramedics on the scene had told me that her vital signs were stable, but the worry was internal injuries. I called her doctor whom she loves and figured he could talk her into it; once again not getting a real human and having to wait for a call back. Then I called in reinforcements. My mother-in-law lived in the same complex and is a retired nurse, so I snuck down to the vending machine and called her. She came right over and tried to coax her, but to no avail. The nurse at the doctor's office called back and echoed what the EMT had said, strongly recommending she go to the emergency room. Nope. So, that left me, with no medical training, to monitor a woman who was hopping mad at me to begin with.

She was mad that she missed the hair appointment she had been driving to, she was mad that she had spent all that time out in the hot sun, she was mad that I talked to the emergency workers more than I talked directly to her (true story, by the way - I will fully confess that I said very little to her at the scene because I thought I might say something I would regret like, "This is why you shouldn't be driving." or "You happy now?"). Ironically, the fact that I didn't say those things didn't stop her from accusing me of saying them. A point which I vehemently defended myself against. Not a fun day. Nor was it a fun weekend. But, after watching her pretty closely over the next couple of days, I was satisfied that she wasn't bleeding to death from the inside out and went back to work that Monday tired, but feeling like life could resume.

But that scales had already began to tip. For one thing, there was the hassle of dealing with the aftermath of the wreck. I had to deal with the insurance company and the wrecker company. I had to clean out the van on a work day, which took longer than it should have because, in my deplorable lack of direction, I couldn't find the tow yard right away. For another, Mother now had no way to get around on her own. She immediately made noises about getting a new van, so I cajoled her with promises of trying to find her a driver. That didn't turn out to be an easy task, but it was calls one had to make during the workday. The scooter that had been damaged in the accident had to be dealt with. And so on. In the meantime, the rest of my life wasn't cutting me any slack. I wore my stress pretty openly and began to see the gray in my hair are lot more easily than I ever have and I began to wonder if I could truly handle it all.

I had no idea that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

No comments:

Post a Comment