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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Grandma Better

Hi all,

The short of it is that my grandma is much better. Thank you all for your good wishes, I'm certain they helped.

I left Philadelphia on Saturday night, flew to Frankfurt, had a 5hr layover, and flew to Helsinki. I arrived around 6pm Sunday evening, and was met by my mom, dad, my sister, her husband, and of course, Ronja, one of the world's cutest dogs. My sister and brother-in-law drove me to Turku, a city 2hrs away, where most of my extended family, including my grandma, lives. The visiting hours had ended at 7pm, but we had special permission.

On Sunday, Mamma was in awful shape, didn't understand where she was, nor who these people were who were doing "terrible things" to her. What had happened was that my grandma had had internal bleeding and diarrhea for days, after which someone had finally got enough of a clue to take her to the hospital. On her arrival, her hemoglobin (amt of iron in the blood, to carry oxygen) level was 72, when the average person's is around 135; mine, for example is usually around 160. I know hemoglobin is counted differently in the US, but can't help you with any sort of comparison. Point is, it was about half of what it should have been, and the lack of oxygen, loss of blood, and dehydration had driven her into bad shape indeed.

Disorientation and hallucinations are a symptom of lack of oxygen, and she was certainly having both. We tried explaining to her that these "bad things" that were being done to her were actually infusions of blood platelets, explained to her where she was, and who we were. She finally began to calm down and agreed to stay overnight, since I said I was returning in the morning. My sister and her husband had to drive back still that night, since they were both working all week - everyone was, except for me. I'm very fortunate I could stay; I had cancelled all translating work for this week and ad infinitum, until I get back. I doubt I'll get sacked for it, and even if I did, family is more important.

Monday I had to explain to her several times who I was and where she was. I made sure she ate all her food and medicines at appointed times, took naps, and I also had to take her to the ladies' room down the hall. She was still so dizzy she couldn't walk around by herself, so basically Monday I didn't leave her side except while she napped.

Tuesday, she was much better already. I got to the hospital 2 hrs before visiting hours started, to make sure I got to talk to the doctors, who said that they didn't know what had caused the hemorrhaging, but that Mamma was scheduled for an involved test of the intestines—the thing is, she's at the back of the queue, and it might take as long as a month until she gets in for the test. I don't even want to tell you what I think of Finnish healthcare and elderly care. It seems, in this country, after you turn 70, the social sector can't wait for people to die.

Anyway, I spent another 12 hrs with her, and she was getting more lucid and less weak by the hour. She's had a steady stream of visitors, and I was able to take her downstairs to the cafeteria a few times, even. I made sure that her hair was nicely every day, and that she had her pretty day robe on top of the ugly hospital pyjamas, because looking like a lady is very important to my grandma, and much of what she has had to endure in the past week has been humiliating enough.

Wednesday she was able to get around on her own, use the ladies' on her own, and her meals and naps are pretty regular. Also, she understands now where she is, why she's there, and that she cannot up and leave. I wanted to make sure that it wasn't just passing, so I stayed Thursday as well, and since she was almost to her old self, I caught the train last night to my parents'. Tonight we're going over to my sister's for my dad's birthday celebration. We're going back to Turku to see my grandma on Sunday. Other relatives have been admonished to go visit, so I don't have to worry about Mamma being lonesome. Mamma understood I wouldn't be there for 2 days and was okay with the thought. I told her I'd ask the nurses if she hadn't eaten properly, and I'd be very cranky with her when I came back. I heard her tell one of the other grannies, "she's going to visit her mom, my daughter, but she's coming back before she goes back to America."

My relatives are all like praising me and saying thank you and this and that, but it actually makes me feel... angry? I wasn't there doing all this for some kind of merit badge. I wasn't doing it for my uncles who are too busy and too important, and blah-blah-blah, or my mom whose whole insurance company, along with half of the EU Council, would crash and burn if my mom took a day off. I wasn't there so they could rest secure in the knowledge that someone was "taking care of it."

I was there because I love my grandma. She was alone and scared out of her wits, not knowing what was happening to her, and feeling like the world had abandoned her. I couldn't let her feel that kind of panic and horror. I know if I had been in her position, she in mine, she wouldn't have left me to go through it alone either. When you love someone, being there for them takes priority.

More blogging later, peeps, I'm all wrung out. I missed you guys.

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Blogger SzélsőFa said...

You're an angel.
I'm wishing your Grandmother health and endurance in these hard times.

March 30, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger The Lion Sleeps Tonight said...

You did the right thing. <3

March 30, 2007 11:22 PM  
Blogger Dr. Virago said...

I'm wishing your grandmother continued improvement and, for you and your family, hope and relief as she continues to get better.

March 31, 2007 12:52 PM  
Blogger Mophia said...

I'm glad your grandma is doing better. Hope all continues to progress smoothly and that everyone get's over to visit her.

March 31, 2007 3:49 PM  
Blogger madelineanne said...

I'm sorry I didn't see this until today, but you are in my thoughts and prayers. I know how hard it is when someone you love is altered mentally like that. I hope that she continues improving and that you are holding up well.
Love you!

April 02, 2007 12:32 PM  

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