Russian roulette for the elderly, or my life in the sandwich generation


Yes, I have been quiet of late. I spent the weekend learning to be a grandma with Petit Fille. She adores me, naturally. I am somewhat impressed with her too.

Late Sunday I picked up my phone to read a text from Mr FD. His mother had fallen and this time she has broken the neck of her femur. She is 90 years of age and very frail, though fairly bright of mind.

The plan was that she was to have surgery Monday, and being 90 the outcome was not looking great. So we all rushed bedside to wait until she went into surgery… and she waited and waited. She has medical insurance and was admitted as a private patient to a public hospital. She was given a blood transfusion and told that she was second on the list after lunch. Then she was told she was third on the list.

By mid afternoon she was thirsty and even though she was a nursing sister in her working years she asked for a sip of water. She wasn’t allowed to even rinse her mouth, I expect for fear she would swallow in her confusion. They started a drip but the line fell out of her arm and she bled everywhere, so they tried several spots before one was finally inserted in her hand, but every time she moved her hand the alarm would sound that it was blocked. SIL and I took turns trying to hold her hand still in the bed.

At 5.30pm I came up from the canteen to see MIL drinking a cup of tea. Her surgery had been cancelled and rescheduled for 8am the next morning (today).

Today her kidneys are not functioning well enough for the procedure. They plan on trying to do an epidural to relieve the stress on her heart and lungs, but the kidneys are the main concern. She has chronic kidney problems and almost two years ago we were told that her condition was so bad she would die in weeks from kidney failure…so what are the chances her kidneys will improve by tomorrow? No doubt keeping her nil by mouth and with little fluid all day yesterday would not have helped.

Mr FD is fearing that they will say that she is not fit enough to undergo the surgery to pin her femur, and then she will be left with a broken bone. Death; sooner or later? Russian roulette for the elderly…

Another check of the phone, and a message from my sister informed me that our mother’s care facility is in lock down due to an outbreak of the rotavirus. My mother and the Queen of England! Actually, Mum was fine as of yesterday and only one person in her building had the virus, but we are not overly optimistic of her escaping the virus.

My adrenalin is pumping so hard, I may forget the stick list and just punch the first person who annoys me.  Feeling lucky?


9 thoughts on “Russian roulette for the elderly, or my life in the sandwich generation

  1. One of my friends who just turned 70 after dealing with breast cancer said, “Growing old is not for sissies.” I thoroughly agree with her. You either have to be as tough as nails, or be completely oblivious to whatever’s going on, as my father is.

    Maybe a cup of tea is the best thing for your MIL at this point. Recovering from surgery is difficult even for healthy people: I can’t see a frail 90-year-old coming out of it well, even if the surgery is successful.

    I hope it becomes less stressful for you, FD. At this point, all you can do is take care of yourself and leave the rest to nature and the medical staff.


  2. Wish I could send you my boxing gloves & trainer. He even lets me hit HIM, instead of the receiving gloves, sometimes. It’s quite satisfying.

    Wishing the best for everyone…


  3. My mother went through open heart surgery (to replace a vaulty valve and have a triple bypass) the week before she turned 90. After the surgery she had to have her lungs repeatedly drained of fluid; then she went into a deep depression because she wasn’t getting better as quickly as the doctor had promised (I wish he hadn’t told her she’d be home in under a month – it was almost three). She was never quite ‘the same’ after that (she refused to do much, languished around the house with limited/no interest in activities or people for almost 4 more years). At the end, it was a series of small strokes that resulted in her death (two weeks before her 94th); she had a DNR (do not resuscitate) so it was a long week of watching and waiting at the hospital. I sometimes wonder if the original surgery was appropriate or not. It was a difficult time; I understand exactly what you are going through. Best wishes to you and your ‘elders’.


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