Well, if ever there was a time where I needed a safe place to let it all out, that time is now. Of course I have my Hubby to offer his constant support and without him I don’t know what I would do.
Death is not a topic I am really all that comfortable with. I know it is a part of life and that everyone experiences it. But quite honestly, it scares the crap out of me. And I don’t have much experience with it, thank goodness. Early last year I lost my maternal grandfather. It happened kind of suddenly and it shook me. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his health was in a decline. He got sick with pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital. I was going to visit him, but of course “life” got in the way. My mom assured me it was okay, that I could come the next day for a visit. Then the next morning she called me and he had passed away. I wish I would have gone to see him.
I am not one to wear my emotions on my sleeve and I hold my shit together pretty well. During that phone call I let some quiet tears fall, as I was in the car with all my boys headed to Big 5 to buy the boys some baseball gear. I sucked it up, put a smile on my face, and we went shopping. My Mom and Sister have criticized me in the past for my lack of emotions, but we are all different. My sister is emotional and lets it show. I hold it in and deal with it privately. Neither is right nor wrong.
My grandma went in for heart surgery on Tuesday. I believe she was having a valve replaced, and it was a surgery she had been fighting to get for a while now. The doctors wanted to make sure she was a suitable candidate for the surgery, and of course that she understood all of the risks involved. She is also fighting lung cancer, and she has been kicking its ass for the last 5 or so years. Tuesday afternoon my sister called me sounding a little worried. She had just talked to Mom, and someone from the hospital told her to come down, but not to come alone. Understandably some panic set in.
I flew out of the house, dropped the kids off with my brother-in-law, and the 3 of us went to the hospital. We had no idea what was going on, but upon arrival discovered the phone call was misleading at that point. The surgery went great and Grandma was resting, she still hadn’t woken up from the anesthesia. That seemed a little worrisome, but given her size and age, the doctors said it probably just hit her a little harder and they weren’t concerned. They had taken her in for a CT scan and that came back fine. They also were doing checks on her every hour, and she was somewhat responding to commands to squeeze her hands and push her feet. Sounds good. And the doctor knows what he is talking about, right?
I definitely had my concerns. I didn’t want to voice them at the time, but I felt them. Mom was staying positive and talking to Grandma, telling her it was time to wake up. She told her that her Anniversary and Birthday are coming up, so she had to wake up to celebrate them with the dinner we have planned next week. Our visit was short, but we all let Grandma know that we were there, we loved her, and we would be back.
Wednesday came and there was no change. Wednesday night they discovered a blood clot in her leg and took her in to alleviate it. All went well. We went back to visit Thursday. Grandma was less responsive. The nurse said she was no longer responding to their commands and her movements were involuntary. The doctor also brought up the topic of her Do Not Resuscitate order and her desire to not be hooked up to a breathing machine should it come to that. Shit. Got. Real. Why on earth would they bring up these topics if they didn’t feel like it was something that was coming?! Then a Social Worker came in to talk to us. She asked if we understood what was going on, if we had a support system, and she was asking us about how we cope.
My sister almost lost it. The look on her face was crushing. My mom seemed to brush it off. I think she is in denial. She said yes we know, we are just waiting for her to wake up, she is going to wake up! I wanted to address the elephant in the room, but I couldn’t bring myself to it. I know it’s in all of our minds, it has to be. The likelihood of Grandma waking up doesn’t seem good.
Last night my sister called again. She had just talked to Mom and, after poking, prodding, and pulling it out of her, Mom finally said the doctors now think Grandma might have had a stroke. But they cannot do an MRI on her for confirmation because of Grandma’s pacemaker. But Mom with her denial didn’t want to tell us because it’s “just a thought” and the doctors “can’t prove it.” Okay, I get that this is your way of coping, but it is wrong to withhold information from us. Like she is just telling us what she wants us to hear, and not telling us any of the sad truths.
I think we need to talk about it, I KNOW we need to talk about it. And I did a little with my sister on the phone last night. There is a real possibility that Grandma is not going to wake up. Soon she will no longer be able to breathe on her own and at which point, no intervention will be taken. But I guess I don’t really know what there is to talk about, because we all know it. So I suppose there really is no point in saying the sad truth. But then again, I feel like my mom needs to hear it, to say it. Maybe that is rude or wrong, maybe we should let her keep hope alive. I feel bad that I am not hopeful like she is, so I kind of don’t want to rain on her positivity parade. But I also want her to acknowledge, to verbalize the other possibility.
I feel like this is horrible to say, but I am prepared for Grandma’s death. I feel like it is coming. I don’t know that there is really any mental preparation for that, but at least I am acknowledging this possible outcome. I don’t know that knowing it is coming makes it any easier. Because it is still death, still the loss of a loved one, another painful conversation to have with the boys. Today would have been her and Grandpa’s Wedding Anniversary, and tomorrow is her birthday.
I still hold a little glimmer of hope…but I hold the sad reality as well…