You think you’re tough?

My 99-year-old grandmother broke her hip five weeks ago — we think.

She had been mentioning, quote: “some discomfort” unquote, but didn’t say anything at all about “horrible screaming agony”, so the family was bunging Tylenol down her, which seemed to do the trick.

Well, Mom got kind of worried, so she took Gran over to the witch-doctor, who talked to Gran, and came to the conclusion that Gran had probably mildly strained a muscle.

Hah, I say. Hah.

“Just as a precaution” the doc arranged for an X-ray, and Mom said that when the film was developed, the doctor showed up at a sprint with a stretcher and admitted her right there.

Imagine that little ball on the top of your thigh-bone is a globe. Gran somehow, somewhere, somewhen, managed to neatly split that globe at the equator.

Since the northern hemisphere hadn’t displaced any, and given that Gran is, well, literally 99 years old, the doctor decided to keep her in bed at the hospital and see if the bone would knit on its ownsome.

Well, the nurses tucked Gran into her bed, left the room to get an admissions kit, came back and the bed was empty.

They caught up with her at the front door.

The doctor gently explained to Gran that her hip was broken. Gran gently explained to the doc that she had things that needed doing at the house.

The doc told Gran that if she displaced that section of bone, surgery was the only remedy. Gran allowed the staff the wheel her back to the bed.

An hour or so later, they brought Gran lunch. Five minutes later the hospital cook called the nurses station and asked if they might be short a patient.

Apparently Gran decided that her chicken required more sage, and went walkabout looking for some.

The cook faithfully promised not to send anymore bland food to Gran’s room.

The staff took a wheelchair to the kitchen, re-explained the part about surgery to Gran, and wheeled her back to her room.

Nobody had thought about giving her a painkiller at this time, because she wasn’t complaining of any pain.

At three o’clock the flowers started to arrive.

At three-thirty, the duty nurse looks up and sees someone in a purple robe carrying a bunch of flowers trundle into a room, there is a brief pause, and then my purple-bathrobe-wearing grandmother comes out — after having given the person occupying that room some flowers — and disappears into the next room.

Almost at the point of tears, the duty nurse fetches my grandmother, duly promises to properly distribute the excess flowers and rolls Gran back to bed.

Sometime after this, the next shift arrives and are briefed regarding the Gran Situation.

Next shift puts their heads together and decide that they’re going to Take Steps: they catheterized Gran.

Flushed with victory, they return to the nurses station, just in time to witness my four-foot, ten-inch grandmother place the neatly-rolled, self-extracted catheter on the station desk, while announcing — quite firmly — that she was perfectly capable of going to the bathroom like a civilized human being, thank you very much.

They folded. Wimps.

“Nana,” I suggested, sometime during the next couple of weeks, “You need to tell someone when you’re hurting.”

She squared her little shoulders, fixed me with a gimlet eye, and very firmly stated: “Ladies and gentlemen do notburden others with their pain. It is discourteous, it is rude, and it is simply Not. Done.”

“Yes, Nana, but you’re in a hospital. Their job is to deal with your pain. They get paid for it. That is one of their reasons for being here.”

“Oh,” she blinked for a moment, “In that case, I do have some discomfort.”


Anyhoo, Gran spent the next two weeks in the hospital, ostensibly on bed-rest, until the doc figured that the bone had had enough time to knit, then they sent her home.

Bedrest for four to five weeks.

Do you think her family had any more success with keeping Gran in bed than the hospital staff did?


Anyhoo, ten days ago, Gran didn’t get out of bed in the morning. A little concerned, Mom went in to ask her if she was okay, and Gran told Mom that she was “In pain.”

Mom broke multiple nails hammering the numerals 9-1-1 into the phone.

The doctor was waiting at the ER entrance, and hopped into the back of the ambulance before the driver even got out of his seat.

“Ma’am,” asked the doctor, “Are you okay?”

“It hurts,” she replies.

“Right. Take her to the big regional hospital.”

“But,” responds the nonplussed medicos, “We haven’t gone inside … she’s still loaded … you haven’t done … How do you …?”


Somehow, she managed to displace the top half of the ball half the diameter of the joint.

She slowed down at the big ER long enough for X-Rays, then went right into the next open OR. Complete replacement of the top one-third of her right femur.

She was back in our small-town hospital two days later.

Yesterday, she rode over to the big hospital for her ten day check-up, and if she completes her physical therapy this week, she’ll be coming home.

At 99. And other than that one day, she hasn’t complained of any pain.

Sweet shivering Shiva, I hope I’m half that tough when I’m 99.

I’m off to ride herd on Gran at todays physical therapy session.

Later, y’all.


Oh, hell.
Meditations on the Combat Mindset

30 thoughts on “You think you’re tough?”

  1. Give your Gran my best – she’s one of a vanishing breed of “tough ol’ broads” – my mother being one of the founding members who has since passed on. I, too, hope to be as strong as these gals are when it’s my turn to be “of an age.” Hang in there, Nana – you rock!

  2. Good on ‘er, Lawdog! I had similar women in my family; alas, almost all are gone now.
    Hell, I’m 41, & I’d like to be that tough now.
    Best wishes & quick recovery to the good lady.

  3. They just don’t make them like that anymore. Reminds me of my grandmother who, when well into her 80’s, would take three buses to come to visit my mother and have coffee. Unexpectedly. Mom would answer the knock on the door and there would be Grandma.

    Prayers will be offered for a full and speedy recovery.

  4. Nana sounds like a tough old bird. I just wish my grandmothers were both like that. One is in the ground and the other is ’round the bend.’ Here’s to a speedy recovery, Nana. Dawg, don’t let her beat up on you too much.

  5. It sounds like you trying to ride herd on Grand Ma will be as mush fun as herding cats. Anyway…tell her that a lot of people from out of town are rooting for her.

  6. Oh, were I as strong.

    I admire her for that, and you for sharing.

  7. I wish I was that tough. I’m not sure who needs prayers more. Grandma or the family watching over her. In any case, you all get them.

    While you’ve got her tied down (um, that was figurative…but if that’s what it takes…) maybe you could have her tell some stories about you for the blog.

  8. Reminds me of my great cousin Wilma. 98 this year, and this is the first fall that she hasn’t been a grey lady (the mature version of a candy-stipper) at the local hospital. She was used as the best threat to grown men who refused to do their physical therapy, were thought to be malingering, or just too stubborn to listen. First, have a tiny (4 foot 9) little old lady hopping around you is enough to guilt most grown men into taking their pills and doing as they are told. And if that didn’t work?

    She threatened them with a sponge bath!

    You gran is in my prayers (as is your family, cause I figure you all will need it more to keep up with her!).

  9. Are you sure your Gran and mine aren’t long-lost relatives? Mine is 86, acts 46, and when she went into the hospital with pneumonia a year ago they had to put a bed alarm on her bed and all but strap her to the bed. I’m praying that if I make it to that age, I’ll be as much an “Amazon Queen” (in terms of toughness) as both our Grannies.

  10. Here here! My 87 year old Grandmother is recovering from not one but TWO broken feet, screws, plates, the works to repair, and the most we get from her is being quietly furious at herself for causing so many people (who love her dearly) so much trouble and grief. Not one iota of worry about her own situation…re-learning to walk at 87.

    God bless ’em all!

  11. God Bless your Gran and God help you, sounds like you’re going to need it.

    My husband’s Gramma locked herself out of the house, so she climbed in the bathroom window….at 94, totally blind and mostly deaf. Nothing got messed or broken, particularly her, and her daughter found out only two years later.


  12. This in no way compares to moving around on a broken hip, but my 70+ year-old mother had knee replacement surgery last year. It was performed with her conscious, having received an epidural to numb her below the waist.

    Having nothing better to do while the surgery was being performed, she watched it on the video monitor.

    I’ll tell you right now, I may be her son, but I’m nowhere near as tough as my mother. Or your Gran.

  13. “Somehow, she managed to displace the top half of the ball half the diameter of the joint.”

    No shit? There’s having spartan grit, and then there’s time for the alzheimers meds. 😉

  14. Here’s a prayer for Nana from Colorado. My wife has an Aunt like this in Arkansas. She’s promised not to ride her horse anymore…maybe.

    And now we know where LawDog got his, well, whatever it is.

    Stay well! OldeForce

  15. A well told experience LawDog.

    I too have experienced such independant elders in my life — both men and women, but most often women. They live longer and face more challanges.

    They are the folks that teach us what Love, Toughness, Independance, Orneryness, and personal responsibility is all about.

    My BEST wishes to Gran, and to you my friend as well.

    I am a retired law enforcement officer and as you, has seen way too much.



  16. God bless her, LD! She sounds a lot like my gram’ma did when she was still here.

    I’ll keep both you and your grandmother in my thoughts and prayers.

    Although I’m a bit far from you here in PA, if there’s anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  17. Gran will certainly be in our prayers. How she managed not to “disturb” others with her pain is beyond me. I must be one of the most rude and discourteous people on the face of this earth, as I bother God and Country with my pain, and they’d better give me the good stuff, too. God Bless her, I can’t imagine the pain when she dislocated the femoral head(ball part) of the joint. That’s got to be downright wicked painful.

    Tell her that we’re thinking about her, and praying for her, and that we think she is an amazing and brave woman.

  18. “Love, Toughness, Independance, Orneryness”

    BigByrd, you are so right about our grandparents generation and back that they were tough people who went through some tough situations, and handled it way better than most people do today.

    They were also the ones who weren’t afraid of a little hard work, and I think that’s what made them stronger than a good many of us are now.

    So, I took what you put in quotes, and decided to rearrange it a little.


    And, as you see, it spells TOIL. Maybe some of us need to work a little harder and gain some character from it. I’m sure LD has dealt with many characters who if they actually had a job mine actually develop character.

  19. Give our best to your Nana. She sounds like one of the “whipcord and castiron” ladies.

  20. My mother was a RN in a local hospital for many years. From the stories she’s told I beleieve Houdini apprenticed under some of these tough old birds.Some of these ladies would be restrained hand and foot plus strapped to their beds, only to bee seen walking the halls in very short order.
    Prayers sent for the caregivers and Granny too.

  21. Kinda makes me wish that you’d get into some mischief that Nana would find out about, LD.

    I get this image of your 99 year old Nana kicking your keester round the block with her brand new hip and it just gives me grins! 😀 😀 There’s your physical therapy!

    Best of luck to a tough LADY (in the true sense of the word).

  22. Hi Dog,
    Got an aunt that lives so far up a mountain you can hear harp music, I think. Had a stroke for sure. Stayed a week in the local hospital, went home, won’t use a walker, fell, back in for a week.
    Still won’t move off the mountain. Says “When I can take care of my chickens, I won’t need any one to stay with me.”
    I said if she goes to the chicken pen and staggers once, she will fall over the edge, and will never be found. The road to the place has been a foot path longer than a road, and it’s two miles from any road wide enough for two cars to pass.
    If Gran is like her, may the Good Lord, help you all, she will insist on cooking dinner for the hearders. Ya got to love them all.

  23. Oh, you have my very best wishes for taking care of Gran:) I remember my grampa being the same way and I was NO match fo him. The follow up stories should all be gems.

  24. Holy crap!

    That part about the catheter was what tips my hat to her.

    As someone who’s had one, I can tell you that the discomfort of having one inserted is nothing compared to the I-will-physically-kill-you-if-you-touch-it pain of extraction. We couldn’t even get away with that one on terrorists.

    She removed it herself? That’s a 15 on the Mohs right there.

  25. I’m still cringing.

    I think that I’m going to forward this one to Dad in hospital.

    You know what? No I’m not. Seeing as how he’s laid up with a broken hip right this minute, there’s no point in saying “well this old woman 36 years your senior handles the pain!”

  26. I hope your Grandma is doing better. Three months later, I’m sure she’s back on her feet (and the doctors are back on their toes).

    My Grandma, Popo we call her, has Osteoporosis. She fractured her wrist working at the library.

    She also likes oranges.

    One day, she called my dad to tell him that the oranges in the tree were ripe, and could he please come down and pick them.

    He arrived at her house a few hours later and was presented him with a bag of oranges. It seems he took too long, and she didn’t want the birds getting to the fruit.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise. She climbed taller trees than that when she was eight months pregnant. Why the heck would she let hollow bones stop her?

    A dying generation, certainly.

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