Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You Don't Always Get What You Want

Hi everyone!!!

I am currently typing this from the PC at my mother's house. I am here for two weeks of vacation.

When I planned the trip back in March, we were going to a family reunion and also to a time share resort for a week. We really weren't going to be here much and it sounded like a lovely, relaxing vacation.

Well, of course life is going to throw you some curve balls. Mine came in the form of my Nana getting Pancreatic Cancer.

For those of you who don't know, there is no cure for Pancreatic Cancer and there really is not much in the way of treatment either. It is quick and vicious. Most patients that are diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer don't last 6 months.

Nana was diagnosed about a month ago. She is progressively getting more confused, stubborn and scared. She can no longer be left alone for any length of time which has caused my mother to file for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) so that she can take her to appointments and generally care for Nana.

Last week my mom had to go to a meeting at work and her husband had a Dr. Appointment. The neighbor lady is friends with Nana and asked my mom if she could stay with Nana. My mom reluctantly agreed because she was in a bind. The neighbor lady is elderly as well and my mom knew that she could visit with her, but if something happened that she wouldn't be able to physically assist my Nana, but Mom needed help so she went against her better judgement and left Nana with the neighbor.

Nana decided that this would be the perfect time to go outside and check on her flowers. She hasn't been allowed to do any gardening for a while and she wanted to see how her sweet peas were growing. The neighbor tried to convince her to stay in the house, but Nana has got a stubborn streak a mile wide and wouldn't listen.

Outside she fell and hit her head. The neighbor couldn't get her up and called my step-brother who lives down the street and my step-sister who lives a few miles away. My step-brother got there in less than 10 minutes, picked up Nana (who weighs about a buck ten) and put her into her bed.

Mom got home as fast as she could, took one look at Nana, called the Dr., packed her into the car and took her to the hospital. In a way, it was a huge blessing.

Once they got there, Nana's blood oxygen leven was at 71%. Normal is between 96-100% so it was really bad. They couldn't get her oxygen level back up until they put her onto a full face non rebreather mask (mom told me what it was) at 100% oxygen.

They found out that Nana has MRSA which is a really bad, antibiotic resistant infection which in turn has caused her to contract pneumonia and just to make it fun, Congestive Heart Failure to boot.

Suffice it to say, that if Nana wasn't in the hospital, she might not still be here. She is very ill, easily confused and at times in hullucinating. She does, however, still have her sense of humor firmly intact.

Devon and I drove straight there with my mom, as soon as we landed. Because of the MRSA we have to wear a gown, mask and gloves to go into her room. We went in and it took her a few moments to recognize us. She was very happy to see us, but was also seeing an imaginary dog in her room as well.

It was incredibly difficult to see her like this. She looked like she had been mugged and beaten within an inch of her life from the fall. HUGE purple raised bump on her forehead, two black eyes, scratches on her nose etc. She was breathing through her mouth and she had the white, filmy spittle coating the edges.

Her speech is slurred and difficult to understand but I could understand a few things. She said hello to me and to Devon.

I sat on the edge of the bed and got close enough for her to see me and be able to hear me. I stroked her face with my gloved hand and she closed her eyes and smiled a bit. I could tell that it brought her a lot of comfort so I continued to do it.

I looked at my mom and the tears filled my eyes and started streaming down my face. This isn't Nana. Nana is vibrant, funny, active and always talking. This was a faded memory of my Nana.

It came crashing home like a freight train that Nana will be gone sooner than later. I won't have her to talk to or to hear stories from. She won't be here waiting for me when I fly in to visit. I won't be able to play cards with her or sit with her in her room and watch The Food Network.

Devon got extremely upset and cried for a really long time. He is trying so hard to be brave, but he is only 10 years old and this will be the second major loss of a loved one (his great grandfather died a few years ago). He is very aware that Nana won't be with us much longer and is taking it very hard. I had to whisper to him that Nana needed to see him strong and to not cry in front of her. He was able to get his emotions under control until we left and then we stood in the hallway and I held him as he cried.

Last night, I slept in Nana's bed. It brought me a bit of comfort to be around her things.

Mom says that Nana has her good days and her bad ones and we happened to arrive on a bad day. I am hoping that I see her on a good day because I don't know how I can face 2 weeks of last night. It was definitely turns what was supposed to be a fun trip into a very somber occasion.

My mother has been doing basically everything for my Nana. She cares for her at home, makes sure that she gets her medicine and takes her to all of her appointments. In addition she has to watch her carefully because Nana can be unpredictable. They had to put a monitor in her room so that they could her hear at night if Nana needed help.

I honestly don't know how she has stayed as strong as she has. Mom is sad a lot. She knows that she is losing her mother. She watches her slowly slip further and further away every day and is trying to prepare herself as much as she can for the inevitable. But I can see the added lines to her face. The drawn, sad expression when she is lost in thought.

I want to be here for my mom as well as Nana. I only have two weeks. I pray that Nana gets well enough to leave the hospital and spend her remaining days at home. I have convinced Mom to look into Home Heath when or if Nana comes home. If she doesn't, I will worry about Mom's health as well.

Today we are going to see Nana again. I pray that she is more aware and lucid so that she can communicate with me a bit better. I plan to go up there, stroke her face again and just sit and talk with her, tell her how much I love her and just gaze at the face of someone that I have loved and has loved me since the day that I was born.

6 comments:

Churlita said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Nana.I hope things go as painlessly as possible for her.

I also hope that you and Devon get to do some fun things while you're there too.

Arnold said...

I know what you're going through. It brings back memories of the same. My own Nana passed away in Sept 2006 suffering from cancer. I remember her last days in the hospital, and how I knew, seeing her there, that she was never coming home again.

How hard it was for my own Mom who was the only child who had remained here with her. (The remaining four children were in Toronto & California). They flew down of course, once they knew that the end was near.

I also remember when the end came one night. I was one of the people sitting in the hospital room when she passed away. Thankfully, her other children managed to get here just in time. It was almost like she was hanging on until they arrived. She finally passed away just a few ours after the final one reached.

Just reading this post of yours brought tears to my eyes once again. May God bless you and your family and most specially your Nana. May she not suffer much and if it's God's wish for her to join him in heaven soon, then may it be as painless and peaceful as possible. I wish you'll the strength to cope with this troubled situation.

I'm sorry if I've rambled on a little too much. It's just that it brought back so many memories.

Not so little Woman said...

So sorry to hear about your Nana. I know how it is to know someone you love so much won't be around much longer. Take comfort in the great live she's led and the love she has shared with you guys. People never really leave us, they live in our hearts forever.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Thank you for posting this update - you have been on my mind something fierce. I love you kiddo.

Mrs. Hairy Woman said...

That is so sad... sorry to hear about her declining health.. I hope she is able to go home even for a short while.. Our thoughts and prayers to you and your family at this difficult time...

Thomas said...

This happened to my Uncle Peter. One moment they are there and then they are not.