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Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

'Tis the Season

Almost two weeks ago, Brooke’s grandfather went into respiratory failure. He woke up in the middle of the night and stumbled out into the hallway of the house he shares with his son and son’s family (B’s Uncle S). Uncle S heard him and woke up. As Grandpa began to collapse, Uncle S caught him, and they both fell into the bathroom and against the toilet. The toilet broke, and the bathroom started to flood. Uncle S pulled Grandpa up and out into the living room and propped him on the couch. His skin was gray. Uncle S called 911, and the paramedics arrived. They were unable to get a heartbeat. Grandpa wasn’t breathing. They told Uncle S that they were sorry, but they couldn’t take him to the hospital. They said that Uncle S would have to call the coroner.

“Oh, wait. I think I got something. Let’s load him.”

And so Grandpa went to the hospital.
Where he was offered a hospice referral.
Which he declined.

He was admitted into the ICU and stayed there for about a week and a half. He had a feeding tube and was on a ventilator. Both tubes went into his mouth and were secured there by a long piece of gauzy fabric tied around his head and into his mouth, almost like a gag. We visited last Wednesday, and his left hand and arm were swollen and discolored. It was the color of eggplant. It was aubergine. He was asking for his oldest child, the one who doesn’t live nearby and who he hadn’t seen in over two years. He was asking for Brooke’s dad. We called. We searched for reasonable airfare. He arrived on Sunday after traveling 1500 miles.

Grandpa was pleased, but he wasn’t any better. Two days earlier, he had had a tracheotomy to have a ventilation tube installed directly into his throat, and the feeding tube was now going through his abdomen to his stomach. Monday afternoon, Uncle S reported that Grandpa was not expected to be discharged except into hospice care, but he was downgraded into an intermediate care unit. Tuesday, yesterday, he spent the entire day off the ventilator.

Aunt L asked him what he’s giving up for Lent. He waved his hand at the ventilation machine. All of that. He’s giving up the ventilator for Lent. Damn it, he’s giving up the hospital for Lent. All he wants right now is to be in his own house with a cup of coffee. He’s a strong Polish Catholic who missed his Shrove Tuesday paczki. I think he’s going home, and I think he’s going home soon. Not home like Heaven, like hanging out with God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost, but home like his house. In that house where he almost died, he raised five kids and watched his wife die. She was 48. He’s now 83, and he’s going home for Lent.


4 Comments:

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck to you all, Emilin.

catte

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck to you, B and family.
~Nella

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger christa said...

he sounds like an amazing man...

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger Emilin said...

He's pretty amazing, all right. We're cheering him on.

 

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