I’m down in Ft. Lauderdale today. My grandmother has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and is quickly taking a turn for the worse. My dad has been coming down here regularly for other affairs, and so he planned on coming this weekend with my sister (joining him from NC). After talking with my aunt late last week, I got the honest answer that if I didn’t visit relatively soon, the next time I might see her would be at her funeral.
Jean and I talked it over, and it really came down to this question – “If you don’t see her again before she dies, would you be ok with that for the rest of your life.” Ultimately, the answer was no. So I quickly made my own plans to join them on their trip. Then, we throw one more into the mix, and my cousin Nick comes along too. I called my boss at home to let him know what was going on and that I wanted to take some vacation time on really short notice and would he be ok with that. He was, and so the plane tickets were purchased on Saturday.
So the 4 of us arrived Thursday night. My sister much later than the rest of us flying out of ACY, because she kept getting delayed out of NC.
We stopped to see my grandmother on the way home from the airport. It was about 7:45p, and she was already asleep. She sleeps alot right now, sometimes as much as 16 hours a day.
Yesterday, they took her to a Doctors appt to review some recent bloodwork. Her numbers were really elevated in the kidney functions, and she might be moving into kidney failure. She’s got an upcoming appt. with the oncologist, but since he is going to want additional bloodwork for the kidneys too, the Dr. they were visiting arranged for some more bloodwork and followup tests.
After the appt. they came back here (my uncle’s house where I am staying), and she spent the afternoon with us. She’s lost so much weight. She can’t walk without a walker anymore, and even then, every step is precarious. She’s also been suffering with senile dementia for the last 9 months, so that’s making things even more interesting. One could assume that part of the senility is related to cancer in the brain, but no Dr. has made that formal analysis – although that specifically wasn’t investigated. At this point, it’s not going to change anything, it’s just for information on why her behavior is the way it is.
She forgets who people are. She makes up stories and events. She starts sentences that appear coherent, but by the end have thoughts that are no longer related to the conversation. It was ok yesterday. She recognized me, and she saw the pictures of the twins, but I’m not entirely sure she knew their names. When they were at the Doctors, at one point she asked why she was there. My uncle Steve finally told her it was because she had cancer. She was sad for a minute and asked what now. Steve told her that they had more tests and they would do what they could. 5 minutes later, when they went into another room for some additional bloodwork, she had already forgotten their conversation and was looking for her missing camera.
So it’s about 9 am now. I was only up until 1:15a last night, as I am on a different schedule than everyone else. My dad, sister, and cousin were up until 4a talking, so they are still sleeping now. I’m up in the loft listening to a podcast on my kids’ Ipod masking the filter of the turtle’s aquarium.
She’s coming back again today for the afternoon, so I’ll have a chance to spend some more time with her. I’m here until Monday night for our flight back and will be getting in late.
Some things to remember (they’re not all pleasant):
This visit to see your grandmother isn’t for her, it’s for you, to gather some last memories of her to take with you.
She is … half gone already, she is not coming back. Treasure what lucidity remains, and try to smile when she wanders off into the aether. It doesn’t matter if it’s senile dementia, alzheimers or brain cancer. She will grow worse, and the walker will not be enough to keep her upgright.
See if you can get pictures of her in happier times, so that your children will not grow up unaware that once upon a time they had a great-grandmother. It’s important.
Treasure the memories of the happier times.
Aw man, I really like your grandmother. I’m sorry.
My prayers are with you and your grandmother and the rest of your family.