I’ve had several people ask me why I’m not posting any funny stories about Grandma lately. I’m pretty good at making light of our situation, and laughing to keep from crying. But, the hard truth is, right now things aren’t very funny. It’s actually quiet sad.
If my “real” grandmother had any idea that her life was like it is today, she would run out in the middle of Lewisburg Pike and jump in front of a car. It absolutely breaks my heart to see her like this. What breaks my heart even more is to think how angry I get at her at times. I’m not really angry at her, I’m angry at this stupid disease, but I know I take it out on her. She’s told me on several occasions lately that I am hurting her feelings. Which, makes me want to jump out in front of a car. I often just want to call my momma and ask her what in the world to do, and apologize for not finding more joy in the journey of taking care of the woman who blessed me so much as a child. But, the good news is, Grandma does have dementia and 5 minutes after I hurt her feelings, she doesn’t remember. And, the Bible promises me there is no sorrow in Heaven, so hopefully Mom doesn’t see me on my bad days.
Grandma has been home from NHC a month today. She was a totally different person in rehab. I really think the facility is good for her. She gets the time and attention she needs to her care, and she has people to talk to. She doesn’t get that here. I have a full time job and 2 kids- there just isn’t enough of me to go around. So, she regresses. Her dementia is much worse than ever before. She used to ask the same question every 5-15 minutes. Now, she’ll ask the same questions every 5-30 seconds. It is very rare that she can recall the kids’ names on command. She never remembers eating.
We saw her doctor last week. And, he really caught me off guard. He just flat out asked me, “What is your goal here?” Excuse me? “What is your goal for her care? What is it that you want me to do for her? ” Before you jump to judgement about his terrible bedside manner, let me tell you he is one of the most compassionate, caring, and gentle doctors we’ve seen. I really like him. But, he’s right. What is our expectation here? He said, “Misty, she’s got a broken brain trapped inside a broken body. We can throw one more pill at it to give you more time, but it won’t give her better quality. She’s dying, and you are killing yourself trying to keep her alive.” Well, alrighty then. All of these words I know are true. And, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that death is not the worst thing that could happen at this point in her life. Quiet honestly, for her sake, it’s probably the best thing that could happen. But, until you’ve walked in these shoes, you have no idea how hard it is to make those kinds of decisions. There’s a part of me that sees her as the only part of my mom I have left. And, as long as I have her here with me, I have part of my mom here.
We talked over some different options, and really talked about what my goals are. Where we’ve landed for now, is palliative care. Essentially this is a step down from Hospice care. Is she dying? Yes. Is it going to be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? We don’t know that. Honestly, sooner probably more likely than later. But, we’ve been told 4 times in the last year that she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital alive, and she’s still kicking. Basically, we’ll have nursing care twice a week and physical therapy twice a week coming into the house. My main goal, if at all possible is to avoid my kids seeing her die in my house. With palliative care, we won’t be going to the hospital, doctor, or emergency room. If we’re having an issue, the nurse will come out. However, if we’re at a phase where the nurse thinks death is more likely than not, we’ll transfer her out of the house to either a skilled care facility or hospital.
None of that is funny, and we haven’t had the best medicine- laughter much lately. It’s a stressful season at our house. Summer is both of our busy times at work, the kids are out of school, Lexi Kate’s dance recital is this weekend (and we’re not talking anything like Sue Ann’s Dance Factory ever dreamed of), we’ve got some totally pointless neighbor drama, and we’re stretched just about as thin as we can get for the moment. So, please pray for us. Pray for our marriage, pray for our kids, pray for Grandma. Pray we navigate these days well. And, pray for funny things to happen!