Sunday, August 23, 2009


Rifftrax on Thursday night was a riot--Mystery Science Theater 3000 alums riffed on Ed Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space"--Mr. Salted and I laughed ourselves sick. I promptly passed out for about ten hours the second I got home. First thing Friday morning, I got a call from my uncle (who lives hundreds of miles away) telling me that my grandmother was in the hospital. It wasn't really clear what exactly landed her there; he said she was confused, having some anxiety, had fallen last week, and that the doctors were trying to have her transfer to assisted living and that she had railed against it.

I called her; she sounded like a deflated and stomped-on broken balloon, somewhere far beyond exhausted. She recognized my voice, and I was glad about that. "I'm not doing good," she said. "Not doing good at all. I'm so cold." I told her to ask the nurses for an extra blanket, and she said, "I have. It just doesn't help." I told her I loved her. She said, "I don't want you bothering about me and trying to come up here." I said, "Well, I can't, Granny. I just had that big abdominal surgery, I'm on pain pills, and I can't drive." She said, "I know." We told each other we loved each other again. It was really the reason I called, of course.

Upset that I couldn't do something as simple as bring my grandmother a jacket, I then called one of the sanest people I know, who told me that a lot of times people who are ill will obsess about something like being cold to keep their mind off the bigger matter at hand. She made a lot of sense and, as she always does, made me feel a lot better.

Then the idiot hospital called me a couple of hours later and asked, "Is this (Grandma's name) granddaughter?" I said, "Yes." They said, "Well, she is being transferred to (nursing home),and she doesn't have any shoes or glasses. You have a local area code, and we were wondering if you were able to get those things for her." I told them I wished I could, but that I had just had this surgery, wasn't able to drive up there, and didn't have a key to her house anyway. They said they were going to call her COPES case manager and track down her caregiver's information and take care of it that way. I didn't hear any more about it. I just kept thinking, how did she get to the hospital with no shoes?

Saturday was her 89th birthday. I didn't know if she had been transferred to the nursing home, so I tried calling the hospital first. She wasn't there. I tried her apartment and she wasn't there. I tried the care center and they verified that she was there and gave me her room number, telling me how to dial the room directly. I tried three different times throughout the day and there was no answer. A recording came on and said messages couldn't be left. I just really wanted to hear her voice and not being able to was upsetting.

I tried around dinnertime and a nurse answered. "She's at dinner," she said, "but she'll be back in her room in about half an hour. Do you want me to get her?" I said no, don't interrupt her dinner, just please tell her I have been trying to call and will call her again in a little while. I did call her again about 45 minutes later and she said, "The nurse told me you were going to call so I picked it up. I haven't been taking many phone calls because I've just been too sick." She sounded the same as she had the day before--oriented, just extremely exhausted. I told her I was glad she had taken my call, and that I hadn't forgotten that it was her birthday, and that I was really sorry all of this had to happen on her birthday. We talked a little bit about how she had volunteered at this particular nursing home for years so she knew a lot of the people there--she actually seemed glad to be there. I told her I loved her and she said, "You take care of yourself." (That felt almost ominous. I don't believe she has ever said that to me--she tends to think I am selfish and would be far more likely to tell me to take care of my husband, who she is very fond of.)

A friend of mine is going up to my hometown on Tuesday so I have the opportunity to ride up there with her and visit Grandma. I'm really grateful for that. Maybe if Grandma still wants or needs anything from her apartment, I can get it for her then.

She really needs to be in a place like she is in right now; I'm not sure what it's going to take to make that happen, but one or both of my uncles have to be here to deal with it. Her apartment is HUD-subsidized and since I have worked in the subsidized housing field for several years, I know she can't get subsidy in two places and will probably have to give up her apartment fairly soon if she is to stay in the care facility. I dread having to clean that apartment out; I dread the whole thing. I dread the phone ringing now. Privately, I have felt for some time that she was probably not going to make it through this year. You can prepare yourself for this psychologically ad nauseam, but you're never really ready for these things to happen. More than dreading the inevitable, I just hate to think of her confused, suffering, or afraid. We have had considerable differences throughout my life, but I still love her very much. I want to do more for her but there's nothing much that can really be done. I can't make her younger or healthier, and I can't stop time.

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This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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