Grandpa was brought home to Mom’s house Sunday afternoon, and peacefully passed away yesterday morning around 6 am. I took Monday off of work to be with him and Mom, and we spent all day just waiting for the inevitable. Grandpa was pretty much unconscious the entire time he was home; hospice workers were there the entire time and kept him comfortable with medication. Monday night I slept on the sofa, listening to his breath all night. Early that morning, Mom came out from her bedroom to check on things; we were joking around on the couch, were laughing about how tough Grandpa was in the fact that he just kept hanging on. I’d noticed that since Mom entered the room his breathing slowed down quite a bit, and all of a sudden, he was gone. He didn’t move, gasp, or struggle. He just didn’t take another breath. I’m glad that he waited for Mom that morning – two minutes after she came out to the living room he finally let go, and I can only imagine that he was cheered by us laughing and playing with the dogs in his final moments.

It was Mom’s birthday yesterday, and she saw his hanging on until her birthday as a final gift.

Today Mom and I went to pick out his urn; we were originally going to get a simple wooden box, but I spotted a beautiful porcelain-like urn that Mom connected with right away. It was bright red and orange, and had autumn leaves on it outlined in gold. Grandpa’s favorite color was red, and he especially liked autumn. Mom has fond memories of taking family car trips in the fall, going up to Vermont to see the leaves change color. And, I found an urn for me, too! It’s really cool – mountains, trees, hills, and a waterfall in all the colors I like. So keep that in mind for my wish list, ok? Just kidding about that last part!

What a relief though – not only for us, but I’m sure for Grandpa, who had suffered these last years with back pain, sickness, and a deteriorating mental state. I’m so glad I had this past year to get to know him, and am happy that we were in each others’ lives even for a short time.

I’m so very tired!

This week has been a blur. But for those of you who are interested, here’s where I’m at:

The “Check Engine” light came on in my car.
Teddy Bear threw up and diarrhea’d in my living room and the smell won’t go away.
I worked 15 hours yesterday (I started a 10-week full-time temp job, and then I had to guide for Roar and Snore).
No one came to my little get-together on Thursday due to traffic accidents and hospitalized people and sickness.
I have no food in the house, and neither do my pets.
Zoe keeps licking my hands until they bleed, and I can’t stop her because she’s too damn cute.
Grandpa’s condition continues to worsen.

So let’s update you on that last part. I haven’t gotten to the hospital for the past couple of days because I’ve been so exhausted, so I’m getting all this info through Mom, who struggles through each day (and with a nasty head cold at that). Apparently two days ago Grandpa lost his ability to swallow liquid and food, so he’s now getting nothing but hydration through an IV. Mom had to make the very difficult decision to not give him a feeding tube, and came to that decision because he would a) just try to pull it out, worsening his condition and b) continue to linger on in this horrible state he is in for who knows how long. Recovery doesn’t seem like an option right now, really, and it’s just so hard to watch Grandpa go through this. His dementia is very bad, and when he’s awake he’s hallucinating, yelling, and trying to rip out his tubes and his gown. So they’ve had to sedate him not only with morphine and valium, but now with thorizine, which is used to calm people with hallucinations and the general crazies. I imagine that today he’ll go to a skilled nursing facility, but if he’s not eating or drinking, I’m not sure how long he’ll linger there. I’ll write more when I know more; in the meantime, thanks for your support and thoughts.

Update on Grandpa’s Condition

After four days at the hospital I needed some time to myself, so I’m sitting here this morning and updating my blog. After the doctor’s grim report on Sunday, we had Grandpa moved to an intermediate care unit and put on comfort care. Amazingly, his bleeding has stopped, and as of this morning, his blood count is up, his blood pressure is good, and his pulse is back to normal. Last night I suggested we put him back on an IV (because we knew the bleeding had stopped at this point), and I think that helped. So, the doctor said she’d like to keep him at the hospital for another 24-48 hours to really get hydrated, then they’d move him to a nursing home facility for recovery. Now don’t get me wrong, I really don’t know what’s going to happen with him – I think his condition could go either way. His dementia is really bad right now, and we’ve had to restrain his arms because he keeps trying to rip out his IV, air tube, and yank his hospital robe (yeah, I saw that once and didn’t want to see it again!). Everything’s kind of up in the air.

But thank you all SO MUCH for your kind words and thoughts – Mom and I both really appreciate your support right now. It’s been a really tough time, and we don’t know how this will turn out yet. But you know me – I’ll keep you posted!

Long day at the hospital

Whew! It’s hard spending time at the hospital. They’re kind of like airports, where there’s this strange smell in the air and everything is decorated in a “designer-generic” kind of way. Today Mom and I spent almost 12 hours in the hospital with grandpa, but by the time we left this evening he was finally asleep.

Grandpa was brought in by ambulance on Saturday morning and was diagnosed with a GI bleed. We were told he would probably be ok, but they took him to the Critical Care Unit so that he could get scoped the following day. So yesterday, the doctor told us that they had tried to repair the large ulcer in his stomach but that he would probably continue bleeding unless he underwent surgery. Unfortunately, his chances of surviving surgery would be very low, and even if he did survive, he would probably be put on a ventillator, and the recovery time would be very long, very painful, and very frightening for him. Due to his dementia and the pain he was in, he had been yelling his head off for about 48 hours in the CCU. He’d yell out that he needed water (which we couldn’t give him), that he was tired, that he wanted to go home, and “George Pataki” among other things.

We needed to make a hard decision. We decided that his chances of surviving surgery and the recovery were really low, and that it would just prolong his suffering. So, we had him taken off his treatment (blood transfusions, because he was losing so much blood through the ulcer) and opted for comfort care. We were finally able to unhook all the monitoring equipment and tubes, give him what he wanted to eat and drink, and make him comfortable with morphine. He stopped yelling, took a couple naps, did a lot of smiling, made much more sense when he talked, and now has no pain and is comfortable. We moved him to an intermediate care room, where hospice is overseeing his treatment. Everyone we’ve met has been so attentive and compassionate, has given us much-needed support, and we feel like we made the right decision.

Grandpa will continue to receive morphine and valium (to help with his anxiety and to relax him) as needed. Because he is losing blood at a rate of about a pint per 6 hours, he will probably pass away sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening. There’s always a chance he could stop bleeding, but I’m not expecting that to happen. I’m just glad that I can spend some time with him so that he’s not so afraid, and that I can be there for Mom. This has been tough on her, but I think we’ve done the best we can do. Think good thoughts for all of us – it will be another long day at the hospital tomorrow!

What a week…

Whew! A lot happened this past week. Ok, first of all, I know you’re all wondering about my job search – my application for the Army Corps job (mentioned in the previous post) fell through, so now I only have two applications out, both of which are long-shots (and not really want I want anyway, truth be told). It’s so much work hunting for jobs that I’m kind of getting discouraged by all this rejection and am wondering if I’ll ever find a job.

In the meantime, I signed up with a temp agency, which will hopefully keep some money rolling in for me while I’m job hunting. I also signed up with Arbonne as an Independent Consultant, so you can look forward to me pestering all you friends and family out there to buy their stuff from me. Seriously though, Arbonne sells really great skin care products (all botanically based, no animal products, no animal testing), and they’re the only products I’ve used so far that have been able to help me with some of my dark spots and fine wrinkles (yes, I’m getting wrinkles!). If you’re curious, ask me about it.

And it’s weird how people come and go in life. I broke up with Bob this week, but also this week, my old childhood chum, Tina Junk, wrote me an email from out of nowhere. It turns out that she lives only about 10 minutes from me! She’s married, and a stay-at-home mom with four kids. We’re going to get together on Wednesday for lunch.

My grandfather (on my mom’s side) went into the hospital yesterday, and was diagnosed with a GI bleed in both his stomach and esophogus. On top of that, he has pneumonia, which isn’t very good. He had surgery earlier this morning to fix his stomach ulcer, and I think he’ll be ok, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. And Teddy Bear had a cold this week too – he won’t even eat his wet food! But I think he’s getting better.

That’s about it – I have some exciting things planned for this week, so just you wait for the next installment!