Grandma and Me

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“Grandma is in the hospital,” my mom wept. I was awakened to these words one early morning and panicked. Hospital, as defined in an online dictionary, is an institution in which sick or injured persons are given medical or surgical treatment. However this was not necessarily true in my grandmother’s case.

It was the week after Christmas when my grandma developed an infected wound under her chin. (We found out later from the dentist that the hole under her chin developed from a rotten tooth.) My grandpa didn’t know how to stop the pus from draining, causing him to take my grandma to the hospital. There she stayed overnight and was treated with antibiotics through an IV. Due to past overnight stays in the hospital, my grandpa told the nurses to put an alarm on my grandma’s hospital bed, as she gets disoriented in an unfamiliar environment. The nurses failed to listen to my grandpa, causing my grandma to stay in the hospital for several more days, as she got out of bed that night and fell. Her new diagnosis was a fractured hip. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the hospital lost her dentures and walker. This caused her to lose several pounds, as she was not able to eat solid food with her lack of teeth. Although suffering through the pain of a fractured hip, my grandma was doing extremely well in physical therapy, until the therapists weren’t watching her. She fell again, fracturing her hip lower than the first fracture.

My grandma was only supposed to stay in the hospital for one night, but it turned into about a month. The discharge planner at the hospital decided it was time for my grandma to be placed in a nursing home, as her medical benefits had run out. I thought this new change of atmosphere would do her good, as she could partake in activities that stimulate the brain, such as puzzles and bingo. My optimism changed to sadness though, as my grandma started to hallucinate. Thinking it was due to her new surroundings, my family decided it was time to bring her home, however her forgetfulness and hallucinations continued.

Today, my grandmother is taken care of by my grandfather, as she is permanently bedridden. Fracturing her hip was the cause of her change in personality and I am greatly affected by her dementia. Since the day I was born, my grandma has been a huge part of my life. Her forgetfulness and hallucinations have caused me to find excuses to not visit her, as I cannot cope with how she responded to me when I have previously visited her. Although my grandma has not forgotten me, she tends to live in the past, reliving some of the negative experiences of her life. It hurts me to see her this way, as I remember the “old” grandma, the one who helped me with my problems, made me lunch, and listened to my latest school gossip. I feel very guilty, as I know that if I were sick she would’ve been by my side, praying for a speedy recovery.
Most people struggle with change, as they become accustomed to a daily routine. Thanksgiving and Christmas were traditionally spent with my grandparents, until last year. Now with caring for my grandma, my grandpa doesn’t want to hold the responsibility of entertaining others and continuing traditions. I realize that my grandma is the same person and I am grateful that she still knows who I am, but eventually she won’t, as her condition will worsen. However, when I do visit her, I enjoy the quality time I spend with her, without thinking what the future will bring.





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