It is an ever-changing, consistently moving thing. I’ve known that as long as I can recall, but I guess I simply thought that I was “immune” to it. Meaning, my grandparents would never get sick (well, Nana has always been sick; I suppose…I just never expected her to become so dependent, and less like the fireball with whom I grew), my Mom would always be young and she would never become so tired, and I would speak normally, and be a broadcaster IF I wanted to continue doing it.
Both of my grandparents who are the only ones I’ve ever truly known…are facing *gulp* the end of their lives. (reading that makes my heart tight and my eyes water…and this humungous knot appear in my throat–it is even more discouraging to see it in print. It seems to make it less of a “nightmare” and more plausible).
I see the way my beautiful mother is stressed; and even more so, since she has been a caregiver for my grandparents. All I’ve ever known my Mom to be is the one to depend on; that includes and is not at all limited to, caring for sick family members. The past 20 or fewer years have been hard on my Mom. But, Mom always “manned up” and did what she felt she needed to do for the sake of her loved ones.
For example, she has taken care of my Nana for pretty much the entire time I’m able to remember. I scarcely recall a time when Nana was not “sick” or SICK. Even then, Nana was able to do for herself…and Mom began living her life (but, one that was centered on me and my happiness…rarely, if ever, her own).
I was in the horrific car accident where I’m told I died on the scene; I obviously “came back to life,” and Mom lovingly sacrificed (again) her own life for me to have my own. My dad, “Joe,” found out he has cancer around the time I began to no longer need to have Mom taking care of me 24/7.
So, when Mom called me yesterday to let me know that Nana fell AGAIN…this time, she had forgotten that she is unable to walk sans a walker and tried to get up out of bed all by herself. She had fallen onto the hardwood floor in her bedroom. I do not remember how or when Mom said she found her on the ground, but Mom tells me that when she did find Nana and asked her, “Mother, why did you try to get out of the bed without someone here to help you, and especially, why did you think you could get out of bed without your walker,” Nana replied while giggling, “I don’t know….I thought I could just get up and go pee.”
It seems that Nana is ‘forgetting’ that she is unable to do the simple tasks in which she was once able. I understand because my Nana’s brain damage (she’s had several strokes, and we believe even more “mini-strokes”) is very similar to my own brain damage. Not long after I had been released from the hospital, I tried to get out of bed to go pee. I was not cognizant of the fact that (at the time) I was unable to walk on my own, and if I were able to walk unassisted; I would not be able to sit down on the toilet without plopping over due to the severe balance issues I had. So, once again, Nana and I have a connection that the other members of our family cannot understand.
When Mom called me yesterday evening; I was prepared to “man up” and help her in whatever way I could; I love my Nana. I know from experience how difficult it is to take care of my grandmother. Neither of us ever feel as if we shouldn’t be taking care of Nana; I’m simply assessing that it is very hard. Nana is now reverting back to her helpless state (the way elderly people do at the end of their lives *gulp*).