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Friday, 19 July 2013

Saying Goodbye

Hey there... I'm back from my trip to see my grandma!

It's taken me a few days to get back into the groove and to shake the jet-lag.

Before I go into trip details, I did manage to see and hug and kiss my grandma.  Of course I'm not sure if she was able to hear or see me, although I'd like to think she felt my presence.

I arrived on July 8th at about noon, and although I wanted to go straight to hospital, my mom suggested we go home and I rest and eat before we headed to hospital.  She was in "Medicina 1, bed 63", which I gathered was a form of intensive care for older patients.  They allowed two visitors per patient, and they monitored it by taking your I.D. and giving you a visitor card  specifically for that patient.  There was a security guard to let you in and out.  I found it very strange that people were able to use their cell phones anywhere through out the hospital.  Very different from Canadian hospitals, especially intensive care wards.

We arrived at the hospital at about 5:00 and my two aunts left when we arrived.  My aunt warned that their was no change from previous day, and that the room was extremely hot (there is no air conditioning in the hospital).  When we (my mom and I) made our way to the room, I was prepared for the worse, but I didn't expect to see what I saw.  My grandma was peacefully sleeping.  Other than a feeding tube, you would think nothing had happened and that she was just taking a nap.  And she was like that for most of our visit.  Her hair was completely white (not grey) expect for a small tuft of peach hair by her forehead.  She was immobilised, so that she could not pull out her feeding tube.  The room was very hot, and even with the window wide open, their was no breeze.  At the time, the area was experiencing over 40C temperatures, and the hospital had no air conditioning.  It was h-o-t in there.  At about 7:00 p.m., she woke up and started to cross and uncross her feet, and fidgeting with her good arm (as a result of the stroke, she is paralysed on her right side).  The nurse and nurses aid showed up with her food, and shortly after they fed her, she became very still again, and fell asleep.  I joked to my mom, that she was hungry, and that's why she was agitated.  We left at about 8:30, which is when visiting hours ended.

The following day, we arrived at the same time, and my aunts warned us that she was not having a good day.  That day was probably her worst day.  She was extremely agitated the entire time we were there.  She constantly grabbed at her gown, cross and crossed her legs, and grunted.  Every so often she would coil her legs up to her chest and breather hard. It was hard to see her like that.  The room was extremely hot as well.  I asked the nurse why she would be like that, and I was curtly told that "she was probably hot and uncomfortable".  We left again at 8:30, and she had just fallen asleep, and but she was still agitated, constantly moving her arm and legs.

The following day (Wednesday), my mom received a call from the hospital... my grandma was being discharged.  Based on her state the previous day,  I was shocked.  According to the hospital, there was nothing left they could do, and the family could look after the rest of her care. We headed to the hospital and about 5 hours later she was discharged.  She was moved by ambulance to the private care home that she has been living for the past year.

Over the next few days, I visited her at least once and day, maybe twice. She slept most of the time, so my visits were short.  Apparently the evenings and nights she was very agitated.

The last time I saw my grandma was Tuesday, July 16th.  I dreaded that visit all day, because I knew it could possibly be the last time I see her.  My parents and I went to the beach to walk on the boardwalk and I kept stalling leaving so that I didn't have to go see her.  She was sleeping when we arrived.  She was very still.  Other than breathing, she did not move.  She had been like that for a few days. While visiting, she became very sick and brought up her dinner.  She did not move.  She had to be lifted so that she would not choke.

I cried.  This strong lady that had raised me and been such a big part of my life, was so weak now and helpless.

I cried for all the times, she had said to me after one of my visits to Portugal "I'm probably going to die, and we'll never see each other again." I would laugh every-single-time, because I knew I would see her again, because she had been saying that line for as long as I can remember.

I cried for all the times that I gotten mad at her,  that she had given my kids a couple of euros to buy some candy.

I cried for all the times that I gotten mad at her,  when she would come into my room as teenager as I was trying to catch up on previous sleep, and she would flick the lights on and say very loudly say "are you awake?".

I cried for all the times that I had gotten mad at her for  shooing my dog Bubbles away, when I was younger.

I cried for all those times, and all the good times too.

I cried for the time, that I got my call for my first post college job, and she was standing behind me, so I grabbed her and I danced around with her.

I  cried for when she held my children for the first time.

So many memories.

At about 6:30 p.m., I kissed her on the forehead, and said "Adeus Avo", ("goodbye grandma" in Portuguese). And I walked out. She was peacefully sleeping.  That is the memory I will cherish forever.

I said goodbye for the last time.


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