Tag Archives: grandmothers

When the phone rings……..

7 Dec

So I am anticipating the arrival of my new seed, the phone rings and all hell breaks loose…………….

first a little background info:          Maw is my husbands 99-year-old grandmother.  On February 23, 2013 she will be 100!  Maw has lived in what is now our home, since she was 3 years old.  She gave birth to her children in the main room of the house where the 110 year old fireplace is located, and in the room that for lack of a better word we call the dining room, although we don’t actually “dine” there.  In her better years she was a homemaker, a seamstress, crocheted many a blanket, tended a garden, canned and/or preserved vegetables, fruit and meat, she was a wonderful cook, and a remarkable artist in many mediums — pencil drawings, pastels, acrylic and oil paintings, ceramics and even jewelery making, she read bible stories to her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and even her great-great-grandchildren and gave art lessons to them after school.  To top all that off she was a hairdresser until she was 90 years old.  A remarkable woman who had(has) a positive impact on many, many lives.

In her 96th year after a hospital stay for low potassium, followed by a fall that resulted in a broken wrist, all complicated by a growing Dementia, the decision was made (by her son) that she would be better off with 24 hour a day supervision.  Therefore she was admitted to “the hospital” to live her remaining years.  We call it “the hospital” because (back in the day) when you put someone in the nursing home it was referred to as “the dying place” and that just wouldn’t do, so “the hospital” it became.  Having spent the previous 3 years taking care of Maw in her home, I volunteered to be one of her primary contacts for any emergency at “the hospital”.

Okay so……….

The phone rang, I look at the caller ID and it says “The Hospital”, &%^$ what now.  Over the weekend we had a call concerning a “possible fall” (nobody witnessed it), Maw was complaining that her right leg was hurting as a result of this fall.  They ordered an x-ray which came back negative for fractures or breaks.  Both myself and my husband inquired as to the possibility that her femoral artery bypass (performed 30 years previously) was failing and were both assured it was not in question.

On the other end of the phone is the “wound care specialist” informing me that as Maw had continued to complain about her right leg hurting, from “the fall”, she had been called in to check things out, ordered a sonogram and found none other than a femoral occlusion!  &%^$ could ya have maybe looked for that on Saturday after me AND my husband asked about it?

I made several pone calls as I rushed to get to the ER where they were sending her, informing my husband, my sister-in-law and Maw’s son of her condition, plus a mass text to the great-grands.  Four hours later the ER doctor is confirming this diagnosis and offering me (us) 2 choices of treatment:

Choice 1:  perform surgery to repair the occlusion. (okay)

Choice 2:  give a round of IV antibiotics and send her back to “the hospital” where the antibiotics will relieve the pain and swelling for (oh) about 3 weeks, then it will become inflamed and painful again.  At that point they would repeat the antibiotics for another 3 weeks of comfort, until gangrene set in, at which point they would simply make her comfortable until the gangrene took over.

NO &%^$, those were my 2 choices!!!

We’ll take the surgery thank you very much!  Who in their right mind would “choose” to allow their grandmother to endure the horror of Choice #2???

Several hours in an ER is long enough for any patient to have to bear, let’s remember however, that Maw has the added bonus of Dementia.  All this time she has been her normal sweet adorable self, so I delude myself into believing that all is well and I am in control of the situation.  This was NOT the case after making the 1 hour trip to a larger hospital where the surgeon was located.  By the time they let me into the cubicle where they had put Maw, Dementia was in full swing and I was in for the ride of my life.  Eight hours into Maw’s ordeal I am exhausted, and my phone is on fire from the calls and texts when my husband walks in.  By this time and after several more tests have been completed, we learn the artery is so deteriorated it can not be repaired, there is nothing viable left to bypass, and an amputation must be performed!

To say her hospital stay was uneventful would be a total and complete lie.  First of course there was the amputation, a major deal in itself.  If that wasn’t bad enough, there was the “discovery of the amputation” multiple times, thanks to the dementia.  Then of course we had “phantom pain”, which is even more confusing for a Dementia patient!  Change of any kind is difficult for someone with this debilitating disease, even something as simple as a new room-mate can be complicated.  The trip to the first ER, followed by the second ER, the loss of her leg, nurses in and out, and the morphine drip had our sweet, sweet Maw in a total and complete dementia episode to the point she barely recognized anyone.

We were greatly relieved when they returned her to “the hospital” and she entered all smiles; actually recognizing her room, and belongings.  She completely enjoyed the attention her return brought her as one staff member after another, and one fellow resident followed by others came to tell her they had missed her.  Dementia aside, our little Maw has been a real trooper throughout her ordeal, and we are ever amazed and oh so proud of her.

This past week I traveled with her to the surgeons office for her 4 week check up and staple removal.  We laughed together in the waiting room as she informed me that now she only needed 1 shoe, but they made her buy 2 anyway.  Here she is, our 99-year-old grandmother making jokes about having only one leg.  Gotta love our Maw!

I look back over the stories of Maw’s life and see that it has been blessed.  A few days after surgery she looked at me and said, “All I want to do is go to sleep and not wake up, but God hasn’t taken me home yet so He must have a reason why I’m still here.  What do you suppose that is?”  I held back the tears as I gently kissed her face and said, “Maybe God knows we still need you here with us honey.”

The mirliton seed arrived right on schedule, but of course I simply set them aside.  They sat in the box for nearly two weeks as we tended to our sweet and precious Maw.  They are now safely encased in their little hay filled holes (in the ground) to over-winter until spring.  The fruit trees arrived a few days before Thanksgiving, which has come and gone, and with it a house full of company.   Somehow during all of this we managed to scout out and secure a barn for daughter #4’s reception and set the wedding date for July 29, 2013.

Hhmmm, the fruit trees arrived, one day I might just learn to plan ahead……………………….