The doctors said we should consider one.
My grandmother is 89 and has been ill since New Year’s. Constipation, anemia, breathing troubles. Last Friday - my 30th birthday - she was admitted to the hospital, to Cardiac Care, because they thought it was her heart.
On Saturday they drained 2 liters of fluid from her lungs.
On Sunday she was ok, but tired, and they started giving her what would end up as 8 units of blood. When I arrived at the hospital some cousins (grampa’s neices and their kids) were leaving. My cousin hugged me and said the strangest thing: “I’m glad you’re here now to take care of things.” I’m not sure what I think of that.
Same on Monday.
On Tuesday she stopped breathing and they put her on a respirator; I spent the night at the hospital, just keeping watch. It was not a pleasant night. Gramma was extremely restless, asleep for 20 minutes and awake for 10. Passing blood clots. Too weak to write and couldn’t talk.
On Wednesday morning they did an endoscopy and cauterized a 2 centimeter bleeding ulcer - hence the 8 units of blood. I went to see her after work and, while she was still hooked up to the vent and who knows how many wires, she looked the best she had in weeks. Except. The docs put her on a broad spectrum antibiotic to combat what might be the beginning stages of pneumonia.
On Thursday she was doing well enough that they tried to wean her off of the vent. Her heart rate increased, her blood pressure dropped, and the vent was turned up to 100%. I went in to see her around noon and she was looking very bad. A Lutheran minister gave the daughter of a Baptist minister communion. (Actually, she’s been prayed for by just about every denomination around here except Jews, but I don’t think gramma knows any. Someone even had a Catholic Mass done for her - does that make her an honorary Catholic? Gramma’d get a charge outta that.) I stayed at the hospital til 9ish then went into work late that night, and spent a few hours early Friday morning with her. Again, she was doing well enough that they let her out of the hospital bed to put her in a contraption that kinda looked like a cross between a hospital bed and a recliner.
Friday night I slept. Finally. I called the hospital before I went to bed and was told that her breathing was almost back to normal. She was still on the vent, but it was only breathing for her on those occasions when she didn’t.
When I woke up this morning I called the hospital and was told that she was mostly ok, but sleeping, and came in to work to make up some of the hours I’ve been missing.
I just received a phone call from my mother, and she and my aunt are going to make supper out at the farm tonight and the family is going to sit down and talk about a Do Not Resuscitate order. At the same table at which we’ve had countless Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving and anniversary and birthday and ‘because relatives are in town’ dinners.
I already know what we’re going to decide, but it doesn’t make it any easier.