Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Hard Few Days, but finally, a Christmas Tree

The last few days have been quite stressful. Grandma Ann was still not well on Thursday and ended up going to the emergency room again. They thought she might be dehydrated. She probably was, but while there, they did a follow up CT scan and found that the subdermal hematoma she had on her brain was continuing to build up fluid. They think that was why she was losing speech and starting to forget who we were and her own name too quickly. It was happening over the course of a few days instead of a few months. They did more x-rays and confirmed she had not had any falls in the last month (which I was pretty sure she hadn't) so the assisted living facility she's at is doing a good job keeping her safe at least. 

Bill had to make a series of big decisions on little sleep and with a deep sense of responsibility. His mother has always said that she does not want extraordinary measures taken to save her life - that she was ready to go be with her late husband. She used to tell me, I miss him terribly, every day.

But how about hydration, and a blood transfusion, and brain surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain? I don't know what I would have done if I had to make the decision. I don't know what I would want done for me if I were in the same situation. It's definitely something I'll have to think about and eventually discuss with Bill and put down in my own durable power of attorney. I've written so many of those in my life as an attorney, but I've never seen one actually put to use in such a heart-wrenching situation. I'm glad Ann planned ahead and had one. Six of one, half dozen of another.

The brain surgery she had has an 80% success rate at returning patients to their previous cognitive levels. Which for her, would still be almost-advanced dementia, but still higher than she has been in the last few days. As of tonight, two days post-surgery, she is awake, able to follow directions from the nurses, answers "no" when asked if she is in pain, knows that her last name is "Jennings" but cannot remember her first name, and seems to recognize Bill. It would help him so much if she could just say his name. He is so heartbroken. He is gone 5 to 15 hours a day to the hospital, and then when he's here he just kind of slogs through the hours with the kids. He's sort of checked out emotionally here because he's so distressed about his mother. I don't really know what I can do to help him besides pray and keep the house running. Don't go borrowing trouble, Tricia.

Luckily, Gordo's godfather, Damon, came down to visit last night and we ordered a pizza and hung out. The kids really enjoyed his visit. This morning after Mass he went with us to buy our Christmas tree and brought it home for us in his red pick up truck. He did the same a couple of years ago when Bill was out of town on a business trip. He has been my friend for nearly 20 years and it's great that he is now friends with Bill and a great pal to our kids.

[He took some pictures of the tree shopping on his cell phone, so I'll post them later when he sends them to me.]

While Bill was at the hospital, the kids and I got started on the Christmas tree. It was great that they did most of the work themselves this year. 

Even the stringing of the lights.  Are you fully appreciating the look of deep concentration on my baby's cute angelic face? Even though he's five and a half now, and has a baby brother, he's still my baby.

Of course, Damon thinks he is the cutest one of them all. But then again, he's prejudiced. 

They didn't want my help so I let them go for it. The house still looks like a warehouse with Ann's boxes all over the front rooms, but at least there's a tree in the house and the stockings are ready for Bill to hang on the mantel tomorrow. I think that's as good as it's going to get this year.  

Baby M's already got his two front teeth for Christmas this year, but I think all of us would just like for Grandma Ann to remember our names one more time, especially Toto who is so sensitive and has such a strong love for his Grandma. 

We're all just so beat up emotionally right now, it's hard to get excited about Christmas. I know Jesus is the reason for the season, blah blah blah, but I would really like to understand and know God's plan. Were we to bring her close physically, just to lose her mentally?  It just doesn't seem fair to have my kids go through so much pain at Christmas. I feel like we're all hanging on the cross with Jesus right now, just waiting for the next blow to strike. I can't even understand how to "offer this up" - so how on earth can I make my children understand what our family is going through? 
Sweetpea told me Friday she wasn't sure there was a God. I told her it was okay to question, that many people had doubts some time. That even Mother Teresa had dark nights of the soul. But that's a bitter pill to swallow when it's Christmas and you're eight years old and your friends are going to Christmas parties and you're going to hospitals instead. So I need to go to bed because all I'm doing is complaining about God's plan and everything will seem better after a good night's sleep.

[If only the baby were on the let's get a good night's sleep plan too.]

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