Oct 01, 2009
My 98 year old grandmother has been hospitalized for the past 3 weeks. Until then she had been physically capable of managing her own apartment, her own meals, daily care, quite astute, all her marbles and faculties in place.
She took to her bed. That sounds like such an old fashioned phrase, something that Sylvia Plath would do. She took to her bed and wanted nothing more than to sleep. She was barely eating, drinking, conversing or much of anything. She started to be confused about who people were or who had come by to visit or who had stayed the night or what had been said during conversations.
She told us recently that she wanted to move into a seniors Lodge, where meals would be prepared for her and there would be more socialization, even bingo and music. She's always loved music and singing and be a strong supporter of any of the grandchildren persuing voice, instruments or dance. She was disappointed that there would be a four to five month wait.
The family started a 24/7 stay with her for about 10 days until her physician requested that we take her to hospital. By this point, she had become delusional, confused and disoriented. It's heartbreaking to see her, every time I leave the hospital, I sob all the way home trying to control my tears before I hit the front door so as not to upset my own children. I want to shield them from this pain, they are too young to deal with death, death of someone that they hold so dear, too young to see someone deteriorate to the point that she would not recognize them.
So nightly, or almost nightly, I go to the hospital and massage her feet and legs with rich lotion. She'll moan and say it feels good. I can feel the sinewy muscles relax over frail bones and her breathing relax deeper in her abdomen. She might say "L brought me up this lotion" and I'll whisper..."I am L" and she'll say "Of course you are".
My own mother is made of a different bolt of cloth. She tries to fix everything. She tries to correct every mis-statement her mother makes, tries to redirect ever delusion, every error of who was there and who said what. She thinks that if she does this, everything will return to its rightful order. She has attempted the same thing with me and my bipolar disorder since I was diagnosed....if you just did this, if you just did that, you would be fine. She is incapable of just rubbing my feet and letting me breathe deeply.