Thursday, August 26, 2010

less than one week

One week from right this moment, I'll be getting in my car and heading over to get Maya after her first day of school.

Yes, we are less than one week away from school beginning.

Normally I'm not too excited about school starting, but this year, I need school to start; this summer has sucked. Actually, I guess that's unfair.  We tried to have a Summer of Spontaneity, and I think we mostly succeeded.  Our goal was to be able to say, "hey let's leave town" at the last minute and to be able to do it.  In that regard, our summer was a success.  We camped more than we have since Maya was born (2000).  We went to Walla Walla--just me and Wayne--and we had a great weekend.  Our last trip was to Bend,OR, which wasn't the best trip, but it was still fun.

This stuff with my grandma has been rough, and it has sort of overshadowed the good parts of summer, so I find myself looking at photos from our summer to remind myself that there were plenty of good times.  Wallowing is easy to do, but I will resist.

I stayed the night at my grandparents' house last night; my mom and I take turns sleeping over there.  We stay with my grandma while my grandpa sleeps in the guestroom; this allows him--the 24/7 caregiver-- a bit of respite from his duties, so he can sleep and be a better caregiver during the day.  In addition, I'm there almost every day to help my grandma get ready for the day and to be with her, so my grandpa can leave the house to run errands.

My grandma's condition has worsened, as expected, but she still has her sense of humor and interacts with us.  She hasn't been receiving regular tube-feedings anymore, and she can't really drink fluids anymore, either.  She can't write.  She can't talk.  She is mostly unable to communicate with us--she won't (or can't) even respond "yes" or "no" with nods of her head.  Her entire right side, which is her dominant side, appears to have effects from a stroke (or several small strokes).  She can still bear weight on her left side, but transferring her is more difficult with the limpness of her right side.

Last night was a sleepless night; my grandpa doesn't like to medicate my grandma, so the Haldol that the nurse suggested she take at night to ease anxiety, he tries to skip when he can.  He didn't give Haldol to my grandma on Tuesday night, and he didn't give it (he calls it Halo because it's generic name is Haloperidol) last night either.  She spent the whole night wiggling around in bed and groaning throughout the night.  She appeared anxious, for sure, or maybe it was discomfort.  It's difficult to know.  He told me this morning that he "probably should have given her the Halo."

His fear is chemical dependency, which I totally get with the f'ed up family we have, but at the same time, she's on hospice, which means she at the end of her life.  My poor grandpa is so conflicted.  To give her tube feedings or not?  To medicate her or not?  What medications to continue and which to discontinue?

I wonder if she knows she's dying because no one speaks of what's happening to her in front of her.  A week ago, my mom and my grandpa went to finalize the details at the cemetery and the crematorium.  He told  my grandma that he had to go to the credit union, which she didn't believe.  She was so pissed at him!  He never told her where he really was, so when he got home, she was so mad that he was gone since she was sure he wasn't at the credit union.  I think it would have been easier and better to be honest, but what do I know.

I'm exhausted, sad, unenthusiastic about the things I need to do (co-op, childbirth classes, cleaning, thinking, doing...).  So, that is why I am happy school is starting.  I know Maya will be engaged in activity for 6 1/2 hours a day, so I can help my grandparents and not have to worry about Maya being on the computer/playing video games/watching TV for 10 hours a day while I am at my grandparents' house (or just sitting at home like a blob).

Here's my grandparents on 8.18.10 using a communication board I made for my grandma.  She used it for a few hours before she grew tired of it and put it aside for good.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


We've gotten to the point with my grandma, I think, that she needs a lot more care and attention.

I stayed the night with my grandparents last night to give my grandpa a night of respite; he's been her 24-hr caregiver, and it's really affecting him.  She requires more care now than before, and it is exhausting.

I slept with my grandma and got up with her during the night, which was often.  We went to bed at 12:00am, and she was up at 1:30am, 3:00am, and 4:30am.  She was finally up for the day at 7:00am.  Each time she wanted to be out of bed, we were up for about half an hour.  I am tired today.  I totally get why my grandpa is just completely exhausted; this has been her schedule for weeks now, and sometimes it's a more erratic sleeping schedule than last night.

We're going to try an every third night sleepover schedule to continue to give my grandpa so time off of caregiving.  My mom, my grandpa and I all will all alternate nights sleeping with grandma and getting up with her through the night.

She's declining steadily now, but she's not in any pain.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

it's grand

Two of our kids have now graduated, and one is for sure not living here at home anymore with the other likely to move in with her mom at the end of summer.

Would it be bad to say, "I can get used to this!"?

Sure, it's quiet, dull and lonely at times, but on the bright side, it's quiet, dull and lonely at times!

Paige and I get along a lot better when we don't live together; she's turned out to be a good kid.  She'll be 20 in a little less than 2 weeks (!), and I think she'll be okay.  She isn't lavished with things as much as some of her friends, so I think she'll either hate me for it later or thank me for it.  I just wish she was more on top of getting her school stuff together.  You know: financial aid, registration...

Brittani is 18.  I don't think anything else needs to be said.  Anyone who has ever lived with an 18 year-old understands what I'm talking about: 18 is hell.   Hopefully by the time she's 20, things will smooth over.

I'm just going to enjoy these next few (too few) years before Maya hits that icky stage of 11 to 20 years of age.  Peaks and valleys ahead, folks...