Thursday, August 27, 2009

When it Rains....

The next day was Saturday - and things started getting a little more complicated. We started out the day by heading to the nursing home to visit with Grandma. Seeing her had been our original intentions before everything went crazy - so we still wanted to make that visit happen. My brother went off to the hospital to be with Dad, while Mom went with us to visit Grams.

When we got to the nursing home they told us that they had just put Grandma to bed - she was falling asleep at lunch. We went to her room and found her lying in bed, barely with us. We knew right away that she was nearing the end of her journey. And although we had been ready for this - the timing was just not something we could get our heads around. Grandma was almost 90, and she had been dealing with Alzheimer's and failing health for some time now. She was ready to say goodbye, to move on. As hard as it would be for us to say goodbye, we knew it was her time. But Dad was supposed to be there with us - not lying in the ICU, unaware of what was happening.

So we all took a deep breath and sat by Grandma's bed. We called all of her nieces and nephews. My Mom is an only child but has a large number of cousins (Grams was one of 11 children). We have a large extended family and Grams was the only sibling left. Eric came back from the hospital. Grams was weak, but she was talking to us a little bit. She was so happy to see Lily and to meet Quinn. When possible to step outside of the worry for my Dad - it was such a nice thing to be able to share this time with Grams.

In the afternoon, Gordon, the kids and I left the nursing home to go see my Dad. He had been alone for some time that day. As you can imagine I was not really in my right mind at this point. Gordon dropped Q and I off at the hospital and went to park the car with Lily. Quinn and I rushed up to the neuro ICU. On the way in I was stopped and told I really shouldn't be bringing Q in there - due to the risk of infection that an ICU poses. I couldn't really process this information and said "uh - I have no choice" and went into my Dad's room. Dad was sitting up and looked better than the day before. We had a brief conversation - during which he told me that he was at work. I had to gently point out that he was in the hospital. He eventually looked around and was surprised to discover that I was correct.

Just after this disorienting conversation, my Dad's nurse came in and started berating me for bringing Quinn in with me. She went on and on about the risks I was exposing him to and how awful I was for doing that. My brain could hardly process anything at this point. Finally I told her that I would take Quinn out, but asked her to leave the room first so I could pull myself together and finish talking with Dad. She stood there and kept repeating her speech. I thought my head was going to explode. Finally, after I asked (insisted through clenched teeth?) that she leave yet again - she did. I told my Dad I'd be back and went to the waiting room to hand off Quinn to Gordon.

Later on the same nurse told my Mom that watching me walk in there with Quinn was like seeing me "hang him off a cliff". Let me just say that although I would have appreciated a gentle reminder about the dangers of an ICU, I could really have done without the overblown reaction and the not-so-subtle implication that I was failing as a Mom. I do believe that my biggest parenting challenge so far has been trying to balance my roles as a mother and a daughter during this difficult time. I'm trying desperately to do what's good for my children, but I also need to be with my Dad. I would really have appreciated some help in this area, but could not process being scolded. The situation resolved itself in that I made nice with the nurse (for my Dad's sake and the rest of the family) and eventually got advice from Quinn's pediatrician on what to do going forward. (For the record, the pediatrician thought the nurse had totally over-reacted)

So back to my Dad - after getting the kids safely settled in the waiting room with G I went back in. Dad was in bed now and we were able to have a pretty decent conversation. He was a little disoriented about the hospital still, but remembered that I had seen a Paul McCartney concert a few weeks ago and knew that Eric and Liza had been there earlier. He did not remember seeing us all the day before (not surprising). His Foley catheter was gone this day and he seemed much more comfortable without it.

We left that evening and returned to Somerville. I hadn't packed enough stuff for a long stay and we needed to regroup and figure out what to do with the kids since they couldn't be in the ICU. It was an especially bad place for Lily since she's running around and touching everything - I didn't even want her in the waiting room area really. I left feeling "OK" since Dad was up and talking to us that day. It was strange to return home though - in this new reality. The plan was to hang out at home for a couple of nights and then I would return to my Mom's alone with Quinn on Monday.

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