Monday, February 20, 2012
The last month has been harder for me and my family that it should have been. My grandmother had a bad uti, and was put in the hospital for antibiotics for a few days. Then she was released to go to a nursing home where my mom and aunt had arranged for her to get physical therapy. My grandmother did not move much any more. She liked sitting and watching tv and that was it, she had withdrawn from life... she was a constant fall risk and getting worse, so my mom wanted her to have physical therapy to get her moving again. We all agreed that this would be a very good thing for my grandmother.
One week at the nursing home she fell. I'm not even sure if they had started the physical therapy yet or not... we just don't know. Mamaw told my mom she got up to close her room door at 10:30 and that her knee gave out on her short walk back to bed. She said she knew they would come around at 11:00 to check on her so she wasn't worried... But they never came. Sometime during the night my grandmother pulled a blanket off her bed to cover her on the cold floor. Around 4:30 AM my mother received a call about the fall. Mamaw was taken to the hospital, where it was discovered that not only did she bust her head open bad enough to require several stitches, both her wrists were badly broken, and they both required surgery. That was done on a Monday night. They took her to ICU after the surgery because she could not come off the ventilator yet... she could not breathe on her own until the next day when she finally was able to come off it. She was in ICU for a couple days, then moved to a room... She was unable to use her arms, so she had to be fed and given drink by hand.
My mom would not send her back to the first nursing home (understandably, my mother is convinced that my grandmother laid on the floor for several hours before anyone found her.) so with the help of a social worker we found another good home that would give her physical therapy along with helping her as her wrists healed.
She went to that home on a Wednesday afternoon. She was there about 2 days, during those 2 days they had already let her enjoy a special, fully submerged bath ...twice. It seemed to be the right place... but on late Friday afternoon (Feb 3rd) she had a very massive stroke. She could no longer speak, eat, swallow, or anything at all and she was paralyzed on her full right side. She seemed to not "be there" a lot of the time... but occasionally she would focus her eyes on us and it seemed she knew who we were and that we were there. In addition to all that... she was very hard of hearing. ... this made it even harder because we had been communicating with her by writing on a white board prior to the stroke, after the stroke we could not tell if she could still read.
After several days in ICU, she was moved to a regular room... but she did not improve at all, including finding out she had pneumonia and a severe bladder infection along with everything else... and the question came up of whether or not to put in a feeding tube. I thought it was a no-brainer... of course we will feed her, however possible, but my aunt and mother didn't think that was the best thing to do. After speaking with the doctors... seeing her ct scan and how massive the stroke was, and knowing the slim chance of her recovering to any form of "normal" life... including being able to swallow, let alone feed herself, communicate... etc... they decided that just letting her go instead of artificially keeping her with us would be the best thing for her. on Feb. 9th she was moved to hospice care in the hospital. I struggled with that decision a lot, even though I know she would not have wanted to be kept alive on feeding tubes and IV's the rest of her days.... it is still a painfully hard decision to accept.
Mamaw slowly got worse, but was kept as comfortable and as pain free as possible. I sat with her many, many hours, as did my mother. She left us at 11:00PM Feb. 19th. I was not there, but I got there within minutes and she just looked just the same as before... very peaceful, very restful. I believe she died peacefully in her sleep. She was 85.
Through all this and on a very seemingly unimportant note, I threw in the towel on any dieting... and I'm sure I've gained back the bit I lost in January, although I've not weighed. The stress was so overwhelming that I just ate myself numb. I have been wanting to just stop. Stop everything. Sell all, quit all, move and start over. Everything feels like it's falling apart and is so overwhelming. I can't stop long enough to recover. I know Mamaw is no longer suffering/or in any pain... she is in heaven with her family that went before her and I know that one day I will see her again. And somehow I have got to recover from all the anxiety and stress and helplessness and sorrow I have been feeling.
Until then I have my life to live.... to the fullest, and that includes making sure my health and inactivity do not hinder my days. So it's back to the beginning and I'm trying to get ready to get fit and healthy so that on the day I die they'll be saying... "What in the hell was a 101 year old woman doing on a surfboard anyway?!?!?"