Monday, December 14, 2009

Love, Death & Family

I just went through one of the more harrowing experiences of my life and thought I would share it now, while it was still fresh in my head and heart.

Last night I slept at my grandparent's house because they are at the point where they need someone there full-time.  It should really be a nurse or someone more qualified, but it's just not that simple.  My grandma was in bed when I got there and my grandpa was watching Fox News, and we blasted the Democrats for a good hour before he decided to turn in.  I was pretty wiped out from Saturday night so I fell asleep during the fourth quarter of the Giant's game.

At about 2:00am I heard some noise so I woke up.  I knew that my grandpa gets up a lot during the night to go to the bathroom, so I was ready for this.  So, he went to the bathroom and was fine. 

Just after 4:00am, I heard noises again.  It was my grandpa getting up to go to the bathroom again, so I laid back down.  Then about 10 minutes last I heard a weak female voice saying 'Help me.'  It was 4 am and no one is super sharp then, so it took me a second to get up.  As I was walking towards my grandma's room my grandpa was yelling from the bathroom.  He was coming, but he was going to the bathroom.  And I guess he was at the sink and got his pajama pants soaked (did I mention he's blind?) and was struggling in there.

I get to my grandma's door and in the darkness she's sitting on the edge of her bed... Her face pale in the moonlight and sunken in.  Her legs are so skinny they look like pipes.  Even at 83, she's managed to keep her hair through radiation, and it wasn't until this moment that I truly realized that my nana is very sick.  She's got a blank look on her face and she has no idea where she is.  She recognizes me immediately, which is good.  I ask her why she's trying to get out of bed and she has no idea.  But she weighs less than 80 lbs now and is very weak, so she can't get back in bed.  So I help swing her legs over.  And she's crying out, 'Ow' the whole time.  She has osteoporosis as well and it is mostly affecting her spine.  Her back pain has recently become unbearable for her.  It's terrifying and sad all at the same time.  She's clutching my hand and her grip is very tight for someone with zero meat on their bones.  I don't know what to do, other than gently rub her back and tell her it is going to be okay.  But I'm not sure myself that it is.

My grandpa walks in, or tries to, about then and I tell him it is okay.  My nana loosens her grip and I slowly slink out of the room and help my grandpa back to his bed. 

I make it back to the couch, but sleep doesn't come.  I am afraid to fall asleep in case I miss her calling out.  Every creak, every thump of the heater causes me to jerk up.  My grandpa gets up another 3 times throughout the night, but I'm in a trance until about 7:30 when I finally hear it again... My nana calling for 'help'.  I stagger to her room, but she's standing in the kitchen.  She looks lost and in shock to see me.  She's got her top on, but no pants and it is cold.  And her oxygen isn't on her. I lead her back to her bed and help her get pants on.  I make her tea and she tries to eat, but can't.  The pain in her back comes on strong.  She's almost in tears and she wants to know where my mom or my aunt are.  I feel completely helpless.  I talk her back into bed and rub her back gently until she's able to drift back to sleep until my grandpa wakes up around 9:00. 

And then she's up as if the last hour and a half never happened.  Ready for her morning tea and breakfast.

I appreciate and cherish every second I get to spend with her and my grandpa.  And in turn, have come to appreciate all the time I get to spend with my own parents.  I'm not the type of person who had a crappy childhood or ever rebelled against my parents. No one has supported me more or been there for me like they have. Everything I've ever accomplished on a sports field, in the classroom or in film/print - I owe to them.

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