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Grandma's gone

Hi dudes, how are you? I know, I’ve been totally offline for a long time, and I do miss you all. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but fact is that my job ate my personal life since July. Of course I’m not happy about it, I mean, I like working there, there are several nice people around me, but money is never enough and I really miss having time for myself and those old, good days when I used to stop thinking about work as soon as I left office. During most part of 2006, since I started there, being an efficient employee was a serious issue and it still haunts me, I know I’m the compulsive little girl that can easily become a workaholic, and that’s the kind of shit that I really don’t need to be. So I tried hard to arrive at 9 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m. – no more long hours, right? Huh, I’m sorry to inform that it didn’t worked for more than a few days, but at least I tried...

My job wasn’t the only thing keeping me distant from LJ, though: my Grandma started having health problems at August and finally died last December 12nd from breathing insufficiency and cardiac failure. She went to hospital a few times during that period, and it was sad, it seems suddenly she really got old – I think it started last August, just before her 91th birthday at September 3rd. She was having trouble to walk, it was hard for her to make movements with her legs (sitting, standing up) but until that month she was pretty independent. Then one day it became much more difficult than before and there were other things too: she used to wake up at night to go to the bathroom, but when my mother (for the 1000th time) suggested that she should use diapers at least during nights she agreed - and not only at nights, but all time. It became clear it was difficult for her to wear everyday clothes, so she started using only her nightgowns and pajamas. And to our surprise she also started having a hard time eating and drinking by herself - I've to say we bought her a wheelchair, so she could go to kitchen and other places inside house and also if she had to go out, we could carry it at car. In the very end, however, she didn't want to leave her bedroom at all so all her meals were there.

Not being able to eat and drink by herself... it was a huge surprise, witnessing my grandmother becoming so dependent, she couldn't even comb her hair by herself anymore, her arms and hands were also weak and she trembled a lot with a comb (or any other thing) on her hands. Even scratching her nose was difficult... see, she was always a very independent person, worried about her appearance, she was always perfectly dressed on those old photos at family albuns, it was so weird to see her and so sad too...

She started talking about things and people she was seeing around her, things and people that weren't there. We knew it was a sign, probably she wouldn't live too much more time, and as we believe in life after death it shouldn't be a big deal. After all she'd be free of an old body which wasn't working perfectly anymore, and she'd be with our beloved ones who are already dead. But the idea of losing her wasn't easy, it was difficult even to think about it.

She had to use the nebulizer 2 or 3 times every day in order to breathe better. She also slept a lot, almost all the time, but frequently she said she hadn't slept at all. A nurse explained to us that's normal, old people tend to lose time perception a lot and 10 minutes can be considered a few hours and vice-versa. But she was always better at home than at hospitals: we could see she was afraid of unknown nurses and procedures, such as going to a pet scan, one of us (me or my parents, in fact my mother most part of time) had to stay with her all the time to reassure her she wasn't alone. At home it didn't happen, I think she knew she was safe, surrounded by us and the cleaning ladies who have been working here for a long time and are also missing her.

At hospitals she was always talking about nurses and doctors who weren't at her room, and also about long dead relatives. We believe she was seeing the dead souls of our beloved ones, and even a few souls who happened to enter her room at hospital. More than once, when I wasn't there, she insisted that I was at room but that I was much taller, and we (me and my mother) think she was talking about my dead sister Luciana - she was born with breathing problems and couldn't survive more than one day back at 1979, but my mother uses to dream of her as a young woman who looks a lot like me. She'd be 28 now, if she was alive, but I think she's always around us, and probably she was around in order to help Grandma too.

At some point my mother realized we would need more help with her – my vacation was at October, so I was at home but there was that day when me and my father had to make copies of my car keys, and we also needed to buy a new part for it. Sorry, I don't know its name, it's just a plastic part but it was needed, so as I was with enough free time we thought we could do that today. I was planning to do few other things too, but hadn't said a word about it at home. Anyway, about two hours later Mother phoned to urge us to come back: Grandma was needing to go to the bathroom and she needed me to help her to put Grandma on her hygienic wheelchair. It was a little frustrating not being able to do everything I wanted, but in a way it was good so Mother could realize that soon I'd be working again and she'd really need somebody else to help her. We hired 4 women indicated by friends and nurses to do that, they were very nice to Grandma and helped my mother a lot, since she was getting really tired. They were here everyday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and kept her company when my parents had to go out for some reason (buying groceries, going to the bank, etc.). They helped her during her shower (in fact they did all the work, since Grandma couldn’t do that by herself anymore), fed her, changed her diapers along the day... at evenings I was at home so they weren’t needed, there was this neighbor of us, a very decent lady who came here every evening to change her with me – yes, Grandma wasn’t fat but she was heavy enough to make somebody’s back screams of pain from time to time...


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
Aw sweetie! I'm so sorry she's gone! I remember her from the pics you posted! (((hugs)))
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 1st, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
Thanks for your words. There's a part of us that's ok with her death, because now she's much better free from a body which wasn't working perfectly anymore. And she was getting depressed too, we even tried some pills for it but they had awful effects, she became extremely excited, talking all the time, trying to stand up by herself, and not being able to urinate - that side effect worried my mother a lot, because Grandma's mother died after not being able to urinate for few days, I'm not sure about details but it's one of those well-known family stories.
But there's a part of us that still misses her a lot, the first days were very sad, the house was suddenly too big and empty without her, do you know what I mean?
Jan. 2nd, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
Adriana, I'm so sorry for your loss! My mother died in mid-October; she was 88, so just a couple of years younger than your grandmother. My mother talked to unseen people, and if she ever saw any she never told us, but other than that the record of your grandmother's decline is almost exactly like my mother's. Fortunately Mom was able to be at home with hospice care, and that's where she passed away. The hardest thing now for my father is the loneliness. My mother died two weeks before their 63rd wedding anniversary; this may be the first time in his life that my father has lived alone. We're all just working our way through this, as I expect you and your family are. *hugs and much sympathy*
Jan. 7th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss too, Karen, I didn't know about your mother! And I can see how that's hard for your father, after more than 60 years sharing your life with somebody it must be extremely lonely to be without him/her... {{hugs you and him too}}
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )