Things to think about

Image by Mrs Logic, under a Creative Commons License.

I went and visited grandpa last night.  The medical reality is harsh. We’re talking a life expectancy of less than three months. He is emaciated and exhausted, having so little oxygen that his body devours itself to keep the elemental systems going. He was dozing as I came in, but he soon woke up and clearly enjoyed getting visitors. He laughed and joked and wore himself out by trying to tell stories, panting after every three words. About his fate he is very levelheaded and accepting. He did not strike me as afraid or worried about it all.

Afterwards I joined my parents and my father’s sister and her husband. We talked about the conversation they had with grandpa’s doctors earlier that day, and about how they agreed that most fitting solution is to find hospice care. As his family, we feel that such care should be found in a place where all four of grandpa’s children can come to visit him often. Which means that the current town he is in, is not suitable.

To help my father and his sister, I offered to go online and compile a list of the hospices in the general area that would be easy to reach for all the children. And that’s what I did today. It was probably the most depressing e-mail I ever sent – a list of places where people go to die. All their amenities, the private bathrooms, the bedrooms you decorate yourself, the lovely designed gardens, the meals that the volunteers will cook for you on request, they seem so futile in the face of certain death. I’m trying to comfort myself with the idea that it won’t be futile for grandpa, that he will appreciate being able to choose his own menu every day and be bathed in a bathroom he does not need to share.

I guess. I hope.

There’s always morphine to make him comfortable, of course, but it has somehow become so very important that he gets to squeeze a last few drops of joy out of his life. I need to buy him soft serve ice cream and bring him a puppy to cuddle and audio books to listen to and, and, and..

And then I get to talk to my husband, who is still far away. And I wonder. Who of us will die first? How soon until we have time to make a will? What are laws on euthanasia in the US? How will life be for the remaining partner if we remain (by choice) childless and there is no team of loving, competent people who, bound by blood, always have your back? It’s a confronting thought because I don’t want children. But the idea of going through what my grandfather goes through and not having at least someone who is bound by love and genes to be on your side.. That’s daunting. Shit.

I’m going to have a drink.


2 Responses to “Things to think about”

  1. 1 Amanda January 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Oh Pluis, I am so sorry. Sending hugs your way. On Christmas Eve, the boy’s grandma started feeling bad. She could not move. She was taken to the hospital and it turned out she had had a micro bleeding somewhere in the brain, that has left her without much control or sensitivity on her right side. She is still at the hospital, and it is not clear what will happen. She will need help all the time, so she won’t be able to go back to her apartment. A few years ago her husband had a stroke, and she took care of him up til the end, when from being a super joyful, talkative, clever person, he came to be unable to talk at all. Now she is afraid it will be the same with her and she does not want to be a burden, so even if now physically all the signs are OK (heartbeat, breathing, etc…) and she could get better (though with a million changes, for instance, having to be in a wheel chair) this has made her very sad, she says she does not want to go on.
    So I feel you in this,. Like you say, all we can do is try our best to make them happy in this hard challenges. We made an album of everyone so she can have with her all the time. I made jello and everyone tries to bring treats (that have to be soft because she has trouble swallowing) and make her happy. But it is very hard because she was always this independent, strong, confident woman and now it is like everything is falling apart.
    It is so scary.
    And yeah, the will writing. I think we should start soon (we have talked about what we want, but we have to have it written down officially)

    • 2 thesmittenimmigrant January 15, 2012 at 10:50 am

      It’s comforting to hear from someone else who has this same thing going on in their life, Amanda. I hope Mark’s grandmother will regain some of her abilities, as well as her sense of agency.

      Most care facilities here are not bad, I suppose, but to leave someone you care about in them, making them leave behind the life they had.. Yeah, it’s hard.


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