Monday, October 3, 2011

Everything Happens for a Reason

We decided we were going to drive up to CT to see my grandmother this past Sunday (yesterday). We as in, myself, Jack, my mom and my dad. Archie couldn't go as it was his weekend to work. I had no idea how much I would wish Archie was there, just to have him with me and comfort me. We knew she didn't have long left, and we wanted to make sure we made it up. Well, we were maybe 45 minutes into our trip, and my dad got a phone call from my stepmom. His cousin had called and said that the nursing staff had found my grandmother on the floor with a fever and were taking her to the hospital. I called his cousin and asked what had happened and which hospital they were taking her to, and told her we'd meet them there, but we didn't expect to be there for another 4 hours. She said she'd keep us updated.

When we got to the hospital, we found out she hadn't fallen. I don't know if my dad's cousin getting woken in the early hours of the morning just left her foggy or if the nursing staff didn't relay correct info, but I'm glad she hadn't fallen. She was, however, running a fever, and she had a cough. They hadn't been able to get a decent chest x-ray, and dad's cousin (she is in charge of my grandmother's care, and is also a nurse, so a good choice) declined to continue to attempt these x-rays and let be what would be. They believe my grandmother aspirated, which for those of you who aren't medically inclined, it means that at some point, she got food or liquid into her lungs instead of all of it going into her stomach. They will not be treating her with antibiotics. Her breathing sounded raspy to me, and her cough was somewhat junky.

My grandmother kept covering her eyes with her hands. We couldn't figure out if this was because she was emotional, wanted the bright lights in the hospital out of her eyes, or if she was in pain. My dad's cousin said she started doing this about two weeks ago, and she thought it was pain, but my grandmother has been more emotional lately. At one point, we saw her cover her eyes, and then she was wiping them, my father was sobbing, and I was balling. Not a pretty sight, it was just a really rough day. While we were at the hospital, the rabbi covering for Pastoral Services came to visit us. My grandmother is a devout Catholic, and received the Sacrament of the Sick back when she had her stroke 3 years ago, but he did say a beautiful prayer. Of course, I couldn't control my own emotions and again, was crying.

My grandmother was taken from the hospital straight to the inpatient hospice center. It is beautiful, and it overlooks the water, and has some really interesting rock formation in the water to look at as well. My grandmother had her eyes closed and appeared to be sleeping most of the time, and I just wished she would be able to enjoy that million dollar view if she had to be in that facility. We met up again at the hospice facility and sat with her while the nurses got her settled. I held her hand while she slept, and each time I took it away (usually to tend to Jack), she would be trying to grasp for something. I would put my hand back and she would settle. It was heartbreaking to say the least to see her like that. To have that be our goodbye and not have her know really that we were there.

But everything happens for a reason. I honestly believe that. If we had gone up last week as I had originally planned (but it was flawed because I was scheduled to work which is why we rescheduled for this past Sunday), we would have felt at a loss to be able to get back up there yesterday to see her. I'm not sure we would have been able to go up again while she was alive given everyone's schedules and tight finances (it's about $200 each time we go up between gas and tolls). Instead we were able to see her in the hospital and make sure she was ok (relatively speaking), we were able to see the new facility she would be in (her 3rd in 3 years if you don't count her stay in the hospital for the stroke), meet the staff, and finally, be able to say our goodbyes.

My dad called today for an update. They said my grandmother's cough seems to have subsided and she seems more alert. But her state of mind comes and goes, we all know that. We had all hoped and prayed yesterday that God wouldn't prolong suffering for her. If she's stopped coughing, I'm glad about that, but she lays in the bed twisted, and curled up, and moans in her sleep. It bothers me that she's more emotional-she probably realizes that either she's not long for this world, or that we're not there. If she goes in the next week or two, we probably won't make it back up for her last moments. I will only get 3 days off for services or bereavement, Archie doesn't get much as it's not his immediate family, nor does my mom. I can't go up to be with her at the end, turn around and come home for a day or two, go back up once she's cremated and they have her memorial mass. It's too much, and I won't have the time. I also have to have someone drive with me (it's a long drive, and my father doesn't drive), and if I thought I could do it without anyone when things are going ok, I know I can't when I'm an emotional wreck (being pregnant doesn't help with this). It bothers me that while she will be surrounded by her sisters, neices and nephews at the end (and don't get me wrong, I'm so glad she will be surrounded by people who love her), she won't be surrounded by the rest of her family-namely her only son, and her grandchildren.

I find myself really depressed about the whole situation. I got home last night, and talking to Archie, telling him about the day (combined with being tired and hungry), crying and upset, only led to me getting sick and throwing up in the kitchen. There's nothing I can do to make things better, or control anything about the situation. I can't make her more comfortable, I can't do anything to help her. I'm 24 weeks pregnant, and I keep reminding myself that while I don't have control over any of this, I do have to take care of myself and this unborn child within me. The last thing I want is to be so stressed that I go into preterm labor. I just don't think any of how I'm feeling is going to get better though until my grandmother passes. It will take time obviously for all of us to grieve, but the grieving process has already started for those of us who will continue to live on this earth after she's gone, and it's just dragging out indefinitely. Maybe my grandmother will go quickly. She's in the best place possible if she doesn't because they will be able to control her pain, make her as comfortable as possible, and they will make sure that she is well cared for. I already thought the nurses who worked with her yesterday were just so sweet with her. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Please just pray for my grandmother to be comfortable, and not to suffer. Pray that when she passes it is peacefully and she's surrounded by those who love her, that she isn't alone. Thanks guys.


  1. Dear Jacksmom,

    I totally get you on this. You are a very good person, and I hope your grandma knows how much you care for her.

    "continue to attempt these x-rays and let be what would be"...I get it. Someone in my extended family also said the same thing, given that the scans were causing extra trauma to the recovering cancer patient. (He is 80+)

    I understand that crying and moaning, and floating in and out. My grandma did that too, so I know.

    Just praying for peace for her, and painlessness.

  2. (((hug))) I hope your grandmother is resting comfortably and does not live out the rest of her days in pain. I am glad you were able to be there with her...for her. Death is one of those things that I still don't have a great grasp on, but I always pray that when someone leaves this earth that they have made peace with leaving. I'm sorry you are dealing with so much emotionally. I hope your pregnancy is going well.

  3. I'm so sorry. I lost my grandfather last week. It's so hard.