Sorry for not posting as frequently, my life has been super hectic.
My grandmother has been sick since July. I got a call in July telling me that my grandmother was in ICU and wouldn’t make it another two days. I got a flight to Florida that same day to go and be with her. I was told she had pneumonia and that her lungs were filling up with fluid. When I got to ICU I was taken aback by how terrible she looked, she really looked god awful. She was hooked up to so many machines, wires, and tubes. The only thing keeping her breathing was the ventilator. I stayed by her side for 3 days only leaving to go back to the hotel to sleep. There was no change while I was in Florida, her status was the same. I said what I thought were going to be my final goodbyes and left to go back to NY.
After about a week or two she was making progress… slowly but surely. Eventually, she was well enough to be transferred to a rehab facility to work on her strength and monitor her lungs and work on her breathing. The facility that she was in she couldn’t afford by any means… it was a brand new facility, the best staff, and had top doctors from all around Florida. I would call her and speak to her multiple times a week to see how she was doing, she was happy and loving life while she was there (except the food). It turned out that my last goodbye was not actually my last goodbye. My grandmother’s brother (I call him Unc) is a very complicated individual, but I need to give credit where credit is due, he has a way with words and knows a shit ton of people who can pull strings for him. Unc met with the owner of the rehab facility and ensured that my grandmother would be able to stay there regardless if she could pay and get the care she needed until she was equipt to go home. I think that my grandmother was in this high-class facility for approximately 3 and a half months. So I give Unc credit for being able to make that happen.
Now, this is where things get a little mixed up, I don’t remember if she was discharged from this facility and went right home or if she was in another facility for a short period of time and then went home after… It doesn’t matter because what happened during this time is deplorable. From what I recall, it was the “high class” rehab facility that discharged her to go home. Since she had been at this facility for so long and not paying a dime, they kept trying to discharge her even though she wasn’t able to even walk on her own. I spoke to my grandmother when she got home on a Thursday, she seemed ok, just very tired. I didn’t blame her, she had been through a lot. I get a call on Sunday from Unc telling me that nanny was back in the hospital in bad shape. I contacted her primary care doctor (thankfully I have HIPAA rights) and she told me that my grandmother came to see her on Friday (the day after I spoke to her), she was in terrible condition. The doctor said that she has no idea why any licensed professional would discharge someone in this type of shape. My grandmother had been discharged from the rehab facility while she had a UTI, pneumonia, and a severe infection. Not only that, but the facility didn’t write her any prescriptions for the medications that she had been placed on while at the facility. I was fucking outraged. Apparently, before she was discharged from the rehab facility they claimed her to be healthy enough to return home and when they checked her chest x-ray to look for pnemonia they “misread” it, so that is why they discharged her. I am still outraged over that.
After being in the hospital to treat her UTI, infection, and pneumonia the only thing that they could get under control was the UTI and infection. The hospital decided that the next best treatment plan was to have her in a lung facility to work on weaning her off of the ventilator. I noticed a total difference when I would call this lung facility versus the rehab facility that she was in. The staff at the lung facility was extremely rude and lacked any sort of empathy compared to the rehab (“high class”) facility. My grandmother was still on the ventilator but was alert and making slow progress. It is frustrating being 1,360 miles away from someone you love and not being able to speak to them or see them. I had already had a trip planned for southern Florida with my friends but wanted to make it a priority to visit her and see how they were treating her in this facility.
Where the facility is located was about an hour to an hour and a half away from where we were staying. Anyway, I took a day to myself to go and visit. She was sleeping when I had gotten there but when she woke up she was so surprised to see me (no one told her I was coming). I can’t express how happy her reaction made me, that memory will stick with me forever. Because she had a tracheotomy she wasn’t able to talk but she was able to mouth words… it took a little while to adjust to that, but for the most part, it worked and we were able to have good conversation. I asked her if they treat her ok and she said yes, but she doesn’t like some of the nurses. She said that some of the nurses are bitches and mean. That seriously hurt so much to hear. What I did notice when I first walked into her room was that it smelled like urine, the nurses weren’t doing their job properly. I believe that nurses are so underpaid for what they do but I don’t believe that every nurse has good intentions or the best interest of the patient at heart.
OHHHH.. side note, while in the hospital my grandmother contracted mrsa and because of this you’re supposed to put a gown on, mask, gloves, etc when in the room with her. I had no idea what mrsa was but I assumed that she was already treated for it before she was discharged from the hospital. When I was in her room visiting no one told me that I needed to wear a gown, gloves, mask or anything of that nature – she still had mrsa when I was visiting with her, that’s how much these nurses didn’t give a shit.
Anyway, because she was hooked up to all of these machines, she couldn’t get out of bed or do anything for herself. She would have to call a nurse if she needed to use the restroom. Come to find out, most of the nurses won’t show up until after the patient has made the mess in the bed. My poor grandmother was so humiliated that she couldn’t even get up to relieve herself, that she had to do it while I was sitting there. Meanwhile, she had already called a nurse. We waited 5 minutes, I was reassuring her that she shouldn’t be embarrassed, that I didn’t mind at all. After 5 minutes no one came. I went to the nurse’s station and told them what had happened and that I would like for my grandmother to be cleaned up. I went back to the room and waited with my grandmother for another 5 minutes (10 minutes in total now). Meanwhile, she is laying in the bed that she just relieved herself in. After 10 minutes a nurse walked past the room and I told her that my grandmother needed to be changed. The nurse said sorry I’m busy with another patient, I’ll be back in a little while. I went to go speak to my grandmother’s head nurse and ask if this was common practice to let a patient sit in their piss and shit for what was now 20 minutes. His response had me floored. He said to me, “Waiting 20 minutes is not a long time at all, I don’t know what you want me to do about it, typically they have to wait longer.” His name was Hoarse, so a big fuck you Hoarse!! I went back to sit with my grandmother, the nurse came back and asked me to leave the room while she changed my grandmother – mind you, she has been sitting like this for 34 minutes now (stopwatch on my phone). The nurse needed Hoarse to help her life, my grandmother, to change her – guess what, Hoarse completely ignored the nurse and continued to sit on his cell phone. Another big ole fuck you Hoarse.
After my grandmother was “cleaned up” I went back in there to enjoy the rest of our time together. I killed me to have to leave her knowing what kind of facility she was being kept in. I decided to visit her one last time while I was in Florida. This visit was much shorter, it felt strange. We didn’t have much to talk about and she was really sad. I stayed for maybe an hour and a half with her.
When saying our goodbyes it felt like we knew that it would be goodbye for good. She told me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me, she kept saying (mouthing) that she wanted me to know how much she loved me. I tried my best to keep composed, I kept telling her how much I loved her and not to worry because I am always thinking about her and contacting the facility to get check-ins on how she is doing. I didn’t want her to feel all alone, no one visited her much. I reminded her that it wasn’t goodbye, I would be coming up to see her in March during my spring break to see her again. I think that we both knew that this was the final time seeing one another in this lifetime. It wasn’t a big hysterical moment, which is strange because my grandmother is a hysterical human being. I think that was the weirdest part, she knew and I knew that this was probably it, but we both were very much alive. She wasn’t in hospice, she wasn’t on deaths bed, she was very much alive when we said goodbye and that is a weird thing to let settle in.
Like I had promised, I kept tabs on her multiple times a week even if she couldn’t talk. Two weeks later she was transferred to a different facility (I don’t really know why) but I continued to get updates on her and she seemed to be doing really well. She was able to get around, they were helping with her breathing, she was able to start whispering, etc. The nurses were even nice enough to paint her nails for her and braid her hair. Last week I called to get my usual update on her, they informed me that she was transferred to the hospital.
This is something that really bothers me, I am always the last one to find out anything. I called Unc to ask what was going on, he said “oh I was about to call you” … if I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would be filthy rich. He told me that in the middle of the night nanny went into cardiac arrest and they had to do CPR. Since last Thursday she has been in ICU. The doctor I spoke to said that both cardiology and neurology are trying to figure out what happened, but they aren’t sure. She isn’t responsive, she has sepsis, her lungs keep filling up with fluid, etc.
I wrote about this previously, but I still have no emotions about this whole situation. I haven’t cried, I haven’t panicked, I haven’t rushed down to FL to see her. I know there is nothing that I can do, she is being kept alive by machines. My uncle signed a DNR and the doctor said that its only a matter of time until her heart stops working. I have never been in this position before. Everyone who I have lost in my life I never got to say goodbye to. I never got to say goodbye to my mom, uncle, aunt, or my other grandmother. So this is just strange to me I guess, just waiting for her to pass.
Wow… so if you read this whole thing you’re an all-star because this was long… I initially wasn’t going to post this, I just wanted to write and take my mind off of things but I believe that there is something to be learned here. Make sure that those you love feel loved. Many nursing homes or facilities do not take proper care of the ones that you love, it is terrible, but they get away with it because of the age of the patients. Also, I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to tell people you love them and just be kind.
That’s all I got for this extremely long post/update… Seriously thank you so much for reading and keeping up with my hectic life. So much love for all 99 of you!!
“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it” – George R.R. Martin