Monday, March 10, 2008

And So it Goes...

High drama living sucks. Just thought I'd share. The excitement of a roller coaster or a great party with friends or an excellent book? That I'll take in a heartbeat. But that whole trauma-drama in real life?


So... I've been cursed lately or something, because all the shit has hit the fan in this past year.

Hormonal issues? Check. Yes, the lunacy is back in full force on that front. Marital discord? Check. To the extreme. I don't go into it here, but... yeah. The divorce is final, by the way. Has been for over a month now.

And then, a few weeks ago... all hell broke loose.

It started off small enough. My friends Mack and Case of Friendly Fire from Second Life lost their DSL connection. As in the phone company somehow deleted their entire account. At one point they even lost their regular telephone. It took two weeks for them to regain their connection, and as one of their officers I helped to notify the venues and club owners of their scheduled gigs about their absence and the reason for it.

Now granted, this was NOT small in Mack and Case's life... I mean, they had to relearn how to talk to each other without IMs and everything (kidding, guys -- lobe you! Hee...). But seriously, I know I'd go nuts if I were disconnected from the internet. I read my paper online, I keep up with friends and family through e-mail, I blog (yeah, yeah, well I'm working on it)... it's just how I run my communications. But considering all that followed? Yes, a blip-ish bit of missing-my-friends and concern for them angsty-stuff.

At any rate, during this timeframe my parents left on a trip to Australia with my uncle (father's brother) and aunt. Grandma (Dad's mom) had been bedridden for quite awhile and lived at Mom's and Dad's with 24-hour-caregivers. Now, you have to know Grandma to understand just how much this situation pissed the woman off. She figured about eight years ago that she was done with this whole "life" thing. She'd lost a leg to Type II diabetes, was nearly blind from glaucoma, and had lost her brother and husband within one year's time. She kept going for about a year after that, but finally she'd just had enough.

Grandma was a very stubborn woman. If she said something, that was just how it was. She didn't believe people should fly, and you can bet your bottom dollar her feet never so much as touched the inside of an airport. So when she decided to die? Odds were in her favor that she'd accomplish it.

Except, uhm... nope. My family has been blessed/ cursed with an amazingly good constitution, and despite Grandma's best efforts to the contrary, including more TIAs than I can count, she remained in pretty much the same physical state with a slow decline over the years in how much she was out of bed, how much she'd talk, and so forth. She had excellent care, so the only variable was how long her body was going to hold out against her mind's wishes.

Her condition was stable when the folks left on their trip, but my brother and I had our orders. We were to make sure the DNR she had requested was honored, and we were not to permit hospitalization. Comfort measures only. We'd been through this several trips before.

About a week into the parentals' journey, I had a dream Grandma had died. I woke up and realized that was all it was, shook myself the rest of the way awake, and got the boys on the road to school and daycare.

During my commute, my cell phone rang. It was one of Grandma's caregivers, wanting to take her to the hospital because she wasn't eating. Now bear in mind, this very same caregiver had removed the DNR papers from Grandma's wall the last time my folks went on vacation and had hidden them. So I finished dropping the kids off, and headed over. My brother and the head caregiver were already onsite when I arrived, as well as the on-duty caregiver.

It was reiterated to the on-duty caregiver that there was to be no hospitalization (because a ninety-five-year-old does NOT need to be in the hospital with tubes running through her... goodness), and over the on-duty lady's objections, Grandma stayed home. The visiting nurse came by that afternoon, and my brother and I returned for the report from her.

During this I learned that the on-duty caregiver had been feeding Grandma Diet Coke, because, and I quote, "This will break up the congestion in her chest."

People, the woman was in congestive heart failure. I'm sorry, but even Diet Coke isn't going to cure that. And you know how I feel about my Diet Coke.


Anyway... I talked with the head caregiver some more, and the big concern we all had was that this same on-duty caregiver was going to be on duty again on Friday night (this was on a Wednesday). We were very worried that she'd try to get Grandma in the hospital again, using the overnight and the excuse of there being no family in the house and difficulty or reluctance in disturbing my brother or me. So it was decided that I'd take my sons over there Friday night and spend the night to avoid that problem.

By Friday, Grandma was also showing signs of kidney failure.

We went over that evening and had an uneventful time. The boys and I visited with Grandma (who opened her eyes and smiled at them) and her caregiver, who is a very good woman, just a bit confused about the curative properties of Diet Coke... okay, and hospital-happy too, but she did care very much about Grandma. We all have our ways of coping.

The next morning I was getting the boys together to run to Target, and I was just about to get in the shower when they raced by me, the elder chasing the younger.

"Stop chasing your brother!"

"Okay Mama!"

Five seconds pass.

More chasing.



Blood. Lots of blood.

He'd slipped in my parents' bedroom and banged his head on the wood bedstand, right on the corner. I took one look at him and knew we were headed to the ER, because it looked like he had a huge bloody hole in his forehead above his left eyebrow.


So we grabbed tissues and applied pressure. He didn't lose consciousness and remained coherent, oriented to time and place, everything. I took him downstairs and let the caregiver know what had happened. She kicked into crisis-management mode, which was truly a blessing in this instance. She got Michael some gauze for his forehead, which he continued to hold to the wound very well, got his shoes onto him while I got dressed, and then offered to keep Nicky while Michael and I went to the ER.

Nicky wanted to come with us at first, but the caregiver offered to keep him and I figured we didn't need the whole family circus there, so she bribed him with promises of scrambled eggs and sausage. That sold him -- the boy is a human garbage disposal, I swear.

Michael and I got into my car and went to the local ER. On the way there I called his father and let him know what was up. We arrived at the door to the ER, and you know what? It's amazing how quickly you're moved to the pediatric side of the ER and into a room when your child's sporting a huge HOLE in his forehead.

I have to give kudos to our hospital's pediatric ER, by the way. I bitch and moan about their childbirth policies, but those folks in the kiddie ER area totally rocked. They packed the wound with an anesthetic gel, sealed a transparent bandage over it, and off he went to x-ray to be sure there weren't any fractures.

Final word, no fractures and thirteen stitches total (three subcutaneous) with no lidocaine injections needed. And he held still for everything like a champ.

We returned to my parents' house, gathered our belongings and Nicky, and told Grandma goodbye. The caregiver coming on duty later that evening was good with the DNR orders, so there wouldn't be a problem there and I really didn't want Michael anywhere near stairs. Or wood floors. Or anything that wasn't a padded cell, really.

While we were out at dinner I got a call from Grandma's head caregiver. The visiting nurse was there again, and I spoke to her. Definitely congestive heart failure, turn Grandma every hour instead of the two-hour protocol, kidneys were definitely failing, and it was a matter of time.

I took the boys home, and Sunday passed with no change in Grandma's status.

Monday morning I called in to work as I was going to be taking Michael in to the pediatrician to have his head looked at, per the ER doctor's orders. About five minutes before his doctor's office opened, I got the call from my brother. Grandma had passed away at 8:05 that morning with my brother and her caregivers in attendance. It was, according to him, very peaceful.

He's been hit by it very hard.

I missed three days of work last week... I basically just collapsed, shut down... and even so, it hasn't quite hit me yet. I keep waiting for it. Dreading it.

The cremation has taken place, and my parents and uncle and aunt are on their way back from Australia as they couldn't get a flight out any sooner. They wanted to stay together, and I can't say I blame them one bit. They called from L.A. this afternoon, so they're at least back in this hemisphere, and they'll arrive home Tuesday evening.

I don't know how the hell I'm holding it together at this point, but I'm eerily calm. It's freakish. Even I can see it.

God help me when it hits.


Tycho Beresford said...

God bless you Amanda. If there's anything we can do to help please let us know.

Amanda said...

Thanks, Tycho. I think this is one of those things that will all work its way out in time. My parents are on their way back, so that will help. And hopefully FINALLY getting the funeral arrangements made and the funeral itself accomplished will bring some closure to all this.

It's just been utter lunacy. And not of the good kind.

Thanks again :)

The Fantablous Isobela Capalini said...

Great big 'ole hugs to you and your family.. I am so sorry. If there is anything that I can do, or if you need to yell or cry.... I have a great shoulder! hugs again --Isobela

Scott said...

Amanda, I am sorry for your loss. And I am glad your son is okay. Email me if you think it would help to talk to somebody and I'll give you my phone number.

tz said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Even when you're ready for it it's still hard.

Angel said...

((((((Amanda)))))) Honey I am so very sorry. Still praying for you and your family.

We must go out and get that margarita. God knows I need a drink too.

Hope Michael is healing well. BTDT (with less stitches) and yes, the Pedes ER *rocks* (our last trip was in November. Oy)

Sending lots of love your way. Call me if you need to.

(((((More tender hugs))))))

Jenda Starbrook said...

Wow. So sorry to hear this Ajay. Sometimes it doesn't just rain, it freaking pours. It floods.

I know it sounds cliche to say that if anyone can handle it, you can and I also know how much it sucks to have to deal with it all. If you need anything at all, just holler!

*Big Hugs*