On and Off the Road

Friday morning, the four of us (Kate, Thom, Scout the Dog and I) drove up to Eugene to move one of us (Thom) into his house for the beginning of the school year. It’s his third year at the University of Oregon, and it’s kind of breathtaking how fast that time is going (for us, not him). We spent Saturday taking care of house errands with him, including tracking down a $38 couch at the Goodwill Superstore. Quite a buy, for the money. Sort of a tweedy looking brown fabric that kind of goes with the famous one-dollar chair we found at St. Vincent de Paul a couple years ago.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today we ate breakfast at the favored spot, The Glenwood near campus, then drove home. It was an uneventful trip until we got to the Mount Shasta area. It’s my favorite part of the drive, the high valleys north of the mountain. My cellphone rang, and Kate answered. It was my brother John, with news: My dad had fallen at home yesterday and had broken his hip. I heard Kate say that much and had my usual calm reaction. We stopped so I could talk to John and my sister Ann, who actually took Dad to the hospital earlier today, and I got the details: He stumbled getting out of a chair sometime yesterday and fell. He picked himself up, though, apparently inventoried his injuries and decided he didn’t need to call anyone. He did pull my mom’s old walker out of the closet and was making his way around the apartment with that. But over time he realized he was dealing with more than just some bruises or sore muscles, and this morning he called Ann and asked her to come over. When she got there, he told her what had happened and agreed with her when she said he’d better get checked out at the emergency room. Ann and my brother-in-law Dan managed to get Dad up the stairs and into Ann’s car, and then they drove to the hospital in Evanston. As part of getting checked over, naturally, he was given an X-ray. One of his hips is fractured, though apparently not badly.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that he needs to have surgery tomorrow. Apparently the planned operation is the least invasive procedure possible with this kind of injury. But still, we’re talking about an 86-year-old guy with what is now days called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD for short; one of the old-fashioned terms for it is emphysema, and that’s what you get when you have a pack-a-day minimum Pall Mall habit for a few decades). So tonight, back home in Berkeley, I’m thinking about Dad and the rest of the family and hoping everything goes well tomorrow and afterward.

And if you happen this way, your good wishes, however you’re in the habit of sending them, will be appreciated.

[Update: The news from my brother Chris was that the surgeon says that everything went as expected. Dad was in good spirits going into the operation and apparently stood up to it well. The issue now will be physical therapy and recovery.]

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