While I titled this the final chapter. I will have many other adventures of Gram to share.
So the big day has arrived for her transport to Haven at Springwood. A little back story first. When the social workers approached me that she could not return home and had to be in a facility. I was without a doubt, totally lost as to what to do next. But, I gathered my thoughts and just started calling one facility after another to find placement for Gram. What an ordeal mentally and emotionally, not to mention, it was surprising how many of the facilities in central Pennsylvania could not give a damn about the individuals they cared for. They were mere numbers to them. Though more often than not, these places had such exorbitant fees and waiting lists that were years long; that after I ended a call, I had to walk away to regather the energy to keep calling; I was disheartened and totally disgusted at how even in the end stages of person’s life, they are still capitalized on. Well, I reached my wits end. So I called the office on aging. Not sure if it is a good thing or not. But, when I called. They knew who I was just by my voice. I explained the situation of needed a facility that would not break the bank and would give her optimal care. They came through with the Haven at Springwood a few hours later. I dropped everything I was doing and went the same day to register Gram. After a couple of hours of paperwork and a tour of the facility; it was time to have the wheelchair van pick her up and bring her Haven at Springwood.
Well, she arrived and was pleased to see me. Lots of hugs and her telling me how nice it was to get out of Manorcare and excited she was soon going home. My heart dropped. Damn that dementia, it was a blessing and a curse. I changed subject from talking about home to talking about her room and the nice view from the window.
We came to her room, and I unpacked a bunch of stuff while the nurses were doing their thing of taking her vitals and getting her food likes and dislikes. Hehehe, Gram kept asking for a hot cup of tea and the nurses had to repeat many times that they would take her for tea after she was settled. Oh Gram and her one track mind sometimes. Anyway, they were all done, I sat with her for a few minutes she was asking about her flowers and then, out of the blue, she looks me dead in the eyes. I am not going home, am I? I am staying here for good. I went to give her a hug, and she leaned away. And just stared at me and tears started running down her cheeks. I said I love you Nan, I do not have a choice and nor do you at this point. She said bullshit, pack up my things and take me the bloody hell home. I told her I am not allowed. At this point, my eyes and streaming. And tried to give her another hug and she leaned away. I said I have to go talk to the nurses. And then did something I should not have done as I started to walk away. I turned back to look at her. Oh my god, that was the saddest I have ever seen her in my lifetime, and that I had done this on some level to her. That look was worse than a death in the family. It was the look of total betrayal, I did that. Then I shouted in my head, f*ck!, it echoed through my mind. But, my heart at that moment broke. I suddenly stopped crying. And I remember pushing with all my being that feeling so far down into the deep recesses of my mind. I regained my composure, even if it was totally fake, and went to the nurses and asked if there was anything to keep her calm. They said Gram had a prescription of zoloft and would contact the doctor to check about doses.
After dealing with the nurses, I just left and went home. I could not face her anymore that day.
Oh, that bloody dementia. She called me later in the evening. I was actually afraid to answer. But, I did and to my surprise, all she wanted was to say goodnight and that she hopes to see me soon, since it has been days. What an emotional roller coaster from the bowels of hell. But, I endured.
I went in the next day, she was actually all settled. And asked if we could go shopping, as she needed some new blouses. So I took her out Walmart, as she seemed to like the blouses they were currently carrying. After shopping and a stop my Perkins for some food, we returned back to Haven. It was uneventful, she hugged me and said don’t leave it so long in between visits and that she enjoyed our going out and about. Well, this became the norm for the next 2 years. With only the occasional mention of when she might go home and monitoring her pain meds. A few family holiday get togethers at our home. Oh there were some firsts I will cherish for the rest of life. But, those are stories for another day.
Then one day, I showed up and she was yellow. Very yellow, I asked the nurses, what was up, they said it happens in older adults. It apparently is relatively common in much older adults. But, I wasn’t having it. I said she is going to the doctors immediately. Call the ambulance. They did and off we went to York Hospital. After, a day’s worth of testing, they decided they were going to keep her for a few days.
On day two, the doctor called me and personally asked if I could come in as soon as possible. He would not explain further on the phone. So off I went to the hospital. Arriving I saw Gram in a bit of discomfort. No nurse about, but, then the doctor walked in. He said he had some news of the tests they ran. He said Gram had an inoperable cancer and that she might have 6 months to a year left. Gram and I were both in a bit of shock. Then she started crying hysterically, I hugged her and motioned to the doctor that I wanted to talk. I said how sure he was it was cancer and exactly how bad it was. He said there was no way to tell how bad. Just that is was bad. I asked why it was inoperable. He said if she was a bit younger they would attempt to remove it. But, the doctor was called away in the middle of our conversation. So I went back to gram. She was done crying and just rubbing her tummy, saying oh dear these tummy wobbles. Again, she forgot already that the doctor just broke the news to her about the cancer. I hugged and hugged her. I said you need some rest and I need to track down that doctor as I have a lot of questions and you need something for those tummy wobbles.
I tracked down the doctor after having to call the hospital’s administration office. Oh, there is nothing more annoying than being avoided by a doctor. But, now I had him, I readdressed the surgery possibility. He said I would have to talk to the oncologist. Which apparently was already seeing Gram. I left the doctor and went to straight to gram’s room and she was crying again. Because the oncologist just told her she had inoperable cancer, again. But, for her it was the first time. I asked him out into the hallway. I then asked him, why and how it was possible that over the last five years of Gram being in and out of York Hospital every month, that this was never discovered. Especially, since she has complained of tummy wobbles for ever. But, he was of no help on anything. Just said you can have a second opinion. I said before that, you need to do more tests to see how bad. He said there were a couple more tests they could do to better evaluate how bad. I said do them. Well, a couple more days passed, and then found out it was in stage 4 and she might not last 6 months. Well, over the course of the next few weeks, everyone was informed with a bit of attitude, that nobody was to mention cancer to her at all, that we would call it her tummy wobbles. While there was some initial resistance from the doctors. I asked which it better, to tell her like it is the first time and watch her cry over and over again or just address it indirectly by calling it tummy wobbles. They eventually conceded.
Returning back to Haven, I was approached about setting up Hospice. We did, but, I could not afford a private room, so she had to stay in the room with 2 other people. If I could have afforded a private room, it would have been between $3300-5500. But, we made due. And they eventually, moved the roommates out towards the end. The end was relatively quiet. During her last two weeks, she was comatose, and not in any visible pain. As this was something I watched like a hawk. So she could pass peacefully. Oh, how I talked to her, so so much over those last days. I do not have too many regrets, I think I did everything possible that I was able to for all her needs and wants. I can hope she knew that in the end. She passed. October 22, 2015
I wanted to expand on the end a bit more. Just cannot. Too much.
Love You Gram ~ Always
Your Grandson Neall