"It's a bitch to get old."
I see it in the mirror every day and night, feel it every morning in my hips and my feet, cover it up every few weeks with Preference hair color 5CB.
And I see it in my mother.
Oh I think she is still gorgeous. Well, when she's all fixed up and ready to go to work in her "Black makes you look skinny" shirt, pants and shoes, her endless dangle of gold chains (complete with Lucky Buddha), her dazzling display of rings and things, her "Kiss Me" red lipstick and her snow white hair. And her teeth in.
Yes, she still works, commutes even, driving an hour from the suburbs to the New Orleans French Quarter (then back), where she puts in a good eight hours a day, five days a week reading Tarot cards for the lovelorn and the confused at The Bottom of the Cup Tea Room. And she is very good at what she does.
But sometimes her 78 years knock her on her ass. And me too.
Like this week when I agreed -- naively enough -- to take Mom to her appointment at the local hospital. I told my boss, "I should be in around noon." And I believed it when I said it. Yeah. Like Gilligan's Island, it always starts out as a three hour tour.
Although she will argue the point to her death, Mom is very anemic.
"I don't know why they say that."
It's obvious by the color of her eyes, the whiteness of her skin and the endless cups of crushed ice that are always in her hands.
"That's an old wives tale."
No. It isn't. Chewing ice is a definite sign of anemia. But she also has been feeling very weak for the past few weeks.
"Well gee. I am 78 years-old, Lori. For God's sake."
So her doctor insisted that she have thisintravenous iron infusion three times over the next six weeks. But, coincidentally, on the morning of her appointment, her sciatic nerve got pinched. And no one else on the face of the earth has ever had this happen to them.
"Oh.My.God. This is the tortures of the damned! How can anybody stand it?"
So, at 6:30 on the morning of her 10 a.m. appointment, I get a call from my husband, who has gotten a call from my mother.
"I didn't want to wake you up."
She may need to go to the emergency room because she is in so much pain she can't stand it.
So, I get dressed, down some coffee, grab a breakfast drink, my iPhone and the charger (because the last time we went to the ER my phone died and I nearly did with it), my Kindle and its charger, leave my daughter with her babysitter -- the standard poodle -- and head around the corner to her house (close enough for ME to walk, but not for her). And assess the situation.
She is obviously in a great deal of pain, but has dug in her cabinet of old (no, I mean REALLY OLD) medicines and found some Tylenol 3 from back
"That took the edge off a little. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
So, she decides that she thinks she can make it to her appointment, then we'll try to get to the ER next door to get her back checked out. And we head out s-l-o-w-l-y to my car and the short 15 minute drive to the hospital.
"Can you turn the air off so it's not blowing on me?"
I flip the vents closed.
"If you want me to find someone else to take me, just pull over."
"I'm sorry to be such a bother to you."
"What are you talking about?"
"You act like I'm such a burden on you."
"Oh stop it."
"What are they doing to this road?"
"They are repaving it."
"They are repaving it."
"Why are you yelling at me?"
"Because I HATE saying everything twice. I'd rather say it once, loudly."
"Well you yell at people."
"OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Wait. I can't. I can't walk."
"You have to walk to the bench and I'll go find you a chair."
"NOOOOOOOOOOO. I can't! I can't!"
"Mom. You have to."
By now she is about to fall down dramatically in the parking lot. I figure I have no choice but to try to pick her up.
"Noooooooooooooo! I can't!!!! Stop it! Stop it! Wait!! Leave me alone!! Let me go! ARE YOU CRAZY?????"
I'm well on my way, Mom.
Now, I'm looking around for help. There isn't a soul. There isn't a doctor, a nurse, an orderly, a gentleman, a priest, a cop, a handsome man. Nothing. There is a middle-aged woman who is watching us, with her lips pursed and a scowl on her face. And I just know she is about to whip out her cell phone, dial 9-1-1 and report me for elder abuse. Seriously. And one of my fellow Times-Picayune reporters is going to be writing about me. And her.
Crazy mother, crazy daughter have throw-down in hospital parking lot
That'll sell some papers before we go out of bidness.
Eventually, I do get her back in the car, where I leave her (motor running; it's 90 degrees already) to go find a wheelchair.
Now, you would think that a nice, big suburban hospital would have wheelchairs all over the place for its patients. Right?
I head inside the lobby and look around. None. Just a whole bunch of people -- a lady with a baby, a guy with crutches, a grandfather in a bathrobe -- obviously waiting for their own chair. Finally, I ask the lady at the reception desk where I can find one. She has one hidden behind her desk.
"You can take it, but please, please, please bring it back."
So I wheel it over to my car, get Mom out once again.
Then park her off to the side while I go park the car. On the way, I dial my husband's phone.
"I am about to get arrested for elder abuse."
"(Chuckle). Well don't."
I climb the hill to the entrance (who puts the entrance to a hospital up a hill anyways?) to where Mom is parked and start to push her inside. Guess what. The doors aren't automatic. I have to push the chair, and hold the door open. At the same time.
"What kind of place is this?"
"A F'd up one."
I finally get her to reception, take her ID and insurance card and stand in the line of about six people to get registered. While I'm doing that, she has made best friends with a couple sitting nearby, telling them the whole story of her current ailments and what an ordeal we just had just getting there, and what a terrible daughter I am.
I text my sister, who is NOT here: I am about to get arrested for elder abuse.
Sis: Tell her you will put her in a wheelchair and make her look like an old lady.
Somehow, I do get her to her appointment. And back to the car. And then the Urgent Care Center for her back. And then to the drug store for the four prescriptions they wrote for her. Then back to my house for some food. Then back to her house. Then to my sofa for a long, well-deserved nap.
But never to work on this day.
That just wasn't in the cards.
Getting old is a bitch. Worse is watching my mother get old and need help but not want to ask for it because she doesn't want to bother me
"I don't want to be a burden, Lori."
"You're not a burden, Mom. You're a pain in the ass. There's a big difference."
Read and Be Read: Hanging out with the cool kids at yeahwrite.me.