Friday, August 28, 2009

Granny: catching up

I woke up today at 10:45 AM (!). That's insanely late for me, but I have been perpetually exhausted and I needed the sleep. I was so confused when I woke up that I thought it was Saturday. I called Mr. Salted's cell phone: "Are you still at the dentist?" He laughed: "Sweetie, that's tomorrow. I'm at work."

So, Tuesday: my friend that drove dropped me off at Granny's care center. I went through the hall, looking at all the names. I had been to this same facility years before to visit other people, and it looked very different--much nicer and larger. There had obviously been extensive remodeling and expansion. It also didn't have that ammonia and urine smell I remembered. There was a cat on someone's bed and a parakeet in a cage in the hall. Someone had a service dog, a black Lab. In about the sixth room I peeked into, I saw my grandmother. She was sitting in a wheelchair facing the door, and she saw me immediately, lighting up like a Christmas tree. "Hi!!!!" she said, "Oh, you look so pretty!" (I tried not to react--that isn't something she ever says to me.) We had a really nice chat. I made a list of the things she needed from her apartment. They brought her her lunch and offered me a tray as well, but I wasn't hungry. "She just had that surgery to lose weight," she told the nurse. The nurse and I talked about it and people we knew that had had it and had success. Granny just picked at her lunch. "They are after me because I don't eat enough," she said. I asked her about Ensure, and she said they did bring her things like that. Several staff people popped in and out and they were all very friendly. Grandma kept telling me how good they were to her. "But I don't want that cat on my bed," she said. (She hates cats.) I told her the feeling was probably mutual, and we laughed. For some reason, most cats have gravitated toward her although she can't stand them, but this one was giving her a wide berth. Apparently the facility has a total of three cats living there. Granny told me about calls that needed to be made (I have since made them). She was worried about a couple of bills being paid and the fact that it had been laundry day when she was taken to the hospital. I told her I would take her laundry to my house, do it and bring it back to her in a few days. I asked her what she thought she might want to do in the long run, and she said she wasn't sure yet. I told her I understood. I also told her how sorry I was that all this had happened on her birthday. "Me too," she said. "I was sicker than I have ever been in my life." Someone had brought her balloons and a card--her COPES caregiver. I was so, so glad for that. She also had all the cards family had sent her in the mail. This visit, I brought her a little Beanie baby ladybug that she seemed to like.

My friend came back to get me about an hour later. She is someone I have known since childhood, and Grandma hadn't seen her in many years, but she remembered her. We were telling funny stories of things we had done as kids. Then my friend and I went to the apartment to get things from Granny's list.

We went off the list, and found everything she had asked for. A neighbor was taking in the mail and kindly offered to continue to do so. I told her I would be back in a few days and that my uncle would be arriving after Labor Day. We cleaned out the fridge, took out the garbage, watered the plants, found the bills. We went through her closet to find her a few more things to wear. When she had arrived at the hospital and care facility, she had had nothing--they had had to dress her in spare clothes they had in their laundry room. Her COPES caregiver had brought her a few things since then, but she needed a few more and was still a bit confused as to what was hers and what had come from the facility's laundry.

My friend was such an immense help--she kept me moving and laughing, and she hauled the big stuff, knowing my ankle is still on the fritz. I don't know what I would have done without her there, and she acted like it was no big deal. Good friends are worth more than can ever be expressed in words, especially mine. Friends have been the greatest gift of my life, bar none.

When we got back to Granny, she was lying down. She said her physical therapist had been there and that she was tired. We arranged her clothes. My friend had had the smart idea of bringing her her Bible, and Granny looked absolutely delighted to get it. I helped Granny with her checkbook--wrote out a check for a bill, she signed it and I mailed it for her. We chatted for a bit longer, and I said I'd be back on the weekend. I hugged her and kissed her. She seemed so small, and her hair and skin is so soft, like a baby's--maybe that's another way we regress as we age. It was the first time in my life I had seen her with completely gray hair--she has always dyed it brunette. It has become a pretty silver white. "I always wanted it to be silver," she said. "I guess it just decided to do it all of a sudden now."

I can't say I had no emotion seeing my grandmother in a nursing home, but it was not unexpected and I was not really upset by it. She was absolutely sweet and it was the most pleasant visit I've had with her in probably fifteen years, maybe longer. I know she is taken care of there. She also seemed happier and more contented than I'd seen her in recent memory. I was just glad that I was finally able to see her, to actually be of some help when there was no one else to do it, and to just hug and kiss her and tell her I loved her in person. I had been feeling so helpless being unable to drive up there and take care of business, so frustrated not being able to know what was going on. I left still not knowing much of what went on or what was going to happen, but feeling good because at least I was able to do the basic, preliminary stuff. I went home so exhausted I was barely able to move and fell asleep for about twelve hours.


So, the next day, I was about worthless, which is what I expected. There has been a lot of calling and emailing among the family and my friends checking in re: Granny. There has been much sleeping and watching of bad TV, and it has been good.

Yesterday, I got a call from her COPES case manager. It was a very productive conversation; I learned things that I didn't know, she learned things that she didn't know. Nice lady. She wants to find a way to make Grandma going back to her apartment successful, and so do I, and so do my uncles. It was obvious this woman cared and was doing everything in her power to advocate for Grandma.

I called Granny today and reminded her I would be up on Sunday. It looks as though I may become the person that handles her finances, which is something I dread. I have a lot of caveats for agreeing to be that person, though. (a) The minute she stops cooperating, it's over. (b) The minute anyone in the family tells me I'm doing it wrong or gives me one iota of BS, it's not only over, but they've instantaneously gotten themselves a *BRAND*NEW*JOB*! I'm going to check into what the state payees cost--I would rather have it handled by a neutral third party--but none of us really has the cash to spare to pay such an individual.


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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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