LatherRinseRepeat--Yeah right

Ramblings of an over-worked, over-tired SAHM

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Life -- or something like it

I've been trying to get on here to post for 2 days now and haven't managed to get here until now. Originally, I was going to post about how my sweet little girl, N. turned 3 two days ago. I was going to tell you all about how smart, irritating, loving, aggravating, sweet, frustrating, beautiful, stubborn, and wonderful she is. She is definitely all those things and more and she had a wonderful birthday and fun birthday party but the detail on all that will have to wait for another time.

Today, I will blog about LIFE --- or something like it. See, it turns out my 89-year-old grandmother is in the hospital again. She is in ICU with double pneumonia, her blood pressure is being propped up with medication, she has a pacemaker and a feeding tube. She also has senile dementia (like alzhe!mers but slower progression) and has no idea where she is, what year it is, or who the people visiting her are, including me. She talks a little bit but it's hard to understand her because about a year ago, on another trip to the hospital, someone lost her teeth. So, she lays there day after day, connected to tubes looking up at the ceiling not knowing what is going on.

I did not agree with the decisions that were made to put a pacemaker on her and I vehemently disagreed with the decision to put a feeding tube in. But, it wasn't my decision to make. My grandfather, who died almost 2 years ago, left a distant cousin as guardian for him and my grandmother. So any decisions that were made, were made by him. Now, I understand that without the pacemaker and feeding tube, my grandmother would not still be alive, and that's painful for me. I love my grandmother. She and my grandfather helped raise me from the time I was 10 and I lived with them or they lived with me off and on (but mostly on) for almost 25 years.

But the reality is that I lost my grandmother a LONG time ago, when senile dementia took her from me. The sweet woman who soothed my boo-boos with "sana sana"* and taught me how to mend socks and make "arr0s con leche" is gone. What is left now is a shell that is suffering and confused and in pain. It pains me to see her this way. I wish she didn't have to continue to suffer this way. Now don't get me wrong, I do not support euthanasia mostly because I feel the potential for abuse of it is too high. But, dear God, why do we prolong people's pain and suffering with extraordinary measures? If she didn't have the pacemaker and feeding tube, she wouldn't still be here suffering like this.

And I'm MAD. Mad at my grandfather for leaving his cousin in charge, mad at his cousin for making decisions that only prolong my grandmothers agony, mad at God for taking her mind and taking her away from me, mad at myself because I can do nothing to help her.

Personally, I have made it clear to everyone in my family exactly what I want done if something ever happens to me and there is no hope of a meaningful recovery. I also have a living will that details what I want. If I get to the point where extraordinary measures have to be taken to keep me alive and there is no hope for a meaningful recovery**, then I don't want a respirator, a feeding tube or even an IV bag. Just let me go. I have a better place waiting for me. I have no idea what any one else's beliefs are but I'm a big believer in destiny. I think the Big Man Upstairs turns the page in His book and when your name is there and it's time for you to go, you should go.

When He turns the page for me and my name is there, I want it to be the first time in my entire existance that I am ON TIME.***

Lessons here:
1) Have a living will!!!
2) Tell everyone what you want done or not done.
4) Make ALL your doctors aware of your living will and your wishes.
5) Keep it handy especially if you go to the hospital or ER for anything.

Now go out there and live your lives to the fullest. Hug your parents (grandparents too if you still have them), hug your children, tell the people you love that you love them, even if they just made you so mad you could spit. Don't waste the chances you have in life to tell people you care!!!

Adios, Abuela!! Te amo!!

*"sana-sana" - a silly little rhyme in spanish about making something heal

**by meaningful recovery I mean some semblance of a normal life. Some loss of function I could live with, but I'd want to at least eat, talk making sense at least most of the time, live without too much pain, etc.

***I'm latin, so being on time is almost genetically impossible, just ask D.


  • At 12:02 PM, Blogger ccw said…

    So sorry about your grandmother. I cannot imagine the position you are in, it must be very difficult.

    I have always told my entire family my wishes, but my mom has made it rather clear that she could not abide by my wishes (ironically, she wants zero life support for herself unless she will recover 100%) and let me go. Therefore, my living will is to ensure that my husband is in charge and my wishes are followed.

  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Ann said…

    Thank you.
    I'm glad you've thought about it and have a living will. It's also good that your mom was honest enough to tell you how she felt so you could make sure to leave your husband in charge.

  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger Granny said…

    A living will is crucial. Even though my husband and both sons know what I want (same as you), I still want it written down. It takes the pressure off them when they don't need any more stress.

    I am so sorry about your grandmother. I experienced it with a beloved cousin, somewhat older than I who developed Alzheimers relatively young and survived for almost 20 years. It was so painful for all of us.


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