Sunday, April 8, 2007

Oh, where to begin?

Boy howdy, can a lot of crap happen in a few short days.

My life is crawling along like molasses, where every hour feels like a day, and every day feels like a week.

So, I'm back in the city, waiting for the week to begin so I can finish up at the lab, have my thesis defense, and get to tying up loose ends. It's Sunday, and I hadn't intended on even being on the road to get here until later this afternoon, but my father was awake veeerrrrry early on Saturday morning, and made the mistake of watching the weather forecast.

A "major" snow storm was being predicted on the weather channel, complete with what we like to call the 'red screen of death', warning people to stay off the roads, buy milk and bread even if you don't drink milk or eat carbs, and prepare for the four blizzards of the apocalypse.

Now, my father is a periodic sleeper. He goes to bed at 10pm, then wakes up at 1am and watches a little TV. Then, more sleep, and more TV at 3 or 4am. He saw the RSoD at about 4:30am, considered it briefly, and then pounded on my door at 4:45am. He then proceeded to tell me that I had to wake up and pack all of my stuff (including the spare monster suitcase that I'm sending to the new apt with Hubby next week), and get ready to head out at 7am to get ahead of the storm.

Me and 5am. We don't get along too well unless we run into each other when I'm on my way home from the bar. We especially don't get along when I'm under pressure to do something that I thought I had upwards of 30 hours to complete.

At this point, we also had to figure out how to let Mom in on the action, since she's staying at Grammie's house to help with the rehab after her surgery (but we'll get to that later).

I packed, Dad consulted every weather website and channel he could find, and we were, in fact, ready to go at 7am.

Fast-forward a little, and I'm here in a (really nice) hotel room, by myself, while Dad is on the road cross-country to pick up Big Bro and bring him home (he happens to be moving back to the region this weekend). The mattress was quite nice, and I must've been exhausted because once I got to sleep, I didn't turn over a single time, and woke up at 6:45am completely rested. The continental breakfast was lacking, but I guess that's because it's the weekend; cannonball muffins and really bad coffee aren't doing much for my mood, but at least there's plenty of both. The only problem with this place is that there's some sort of minor hockey tourney in town this weekend, and I had to listen to teenage avalanches going up and down the hallway upstairs. all. freakin. night. They all very innocently told their parents at breakfast this morning that they were in bed at 11pm. Right.

So. Yes. Grammie. That is a whole saga unto itself, but we're surviving. She's out of the hospital, and pretty much doesn't have any use of her right arm for at least 6 weeks while the bionic shoulder heals, and her wrist cast is on. The problem is that she very quickly realized how easy and convenient it is to become dependent.

*Warning - possibly TMI to come*

She didn't hurt her legs or hips, thank le Bon Dieu, but being immobile for over a week meant she lost a lot of strength in her walking, and a lot of balance. The solution for that? Get up off your duff and walk. Walk with a cane if you must, walk with assistance, but walk. Sounds easy, right? Well, we get to the hospital and ask her if she wants to up out of bed to sit in the chair for lunch. "No, I'm tired. Leave me alone." We ask her if the nurses walked her to the bathroom. "Oh, no, dear. It's much easier to just use the bedpan." We tell her she's going home, since her incisions are healing nicely, and everything's ship-shape. "Oh, no! I can't take care of myself! They can't send me home!"


And Mom works with seniors as a therapist, so it's a double whammy for her. Grammie won't listen, even though Mom's a professional, and Mom's the one who gets shouldered with the responsibility of staying overnight. Even super-dependent (and dare I say - lazy) Grammie has enough dignity that she doesn't want her only son being the one to walk her to the bathroom and take care of all that goes with it. So, poor Mom is spending most of her days at Grammie's, because even with the home care workers that come over twice a day, their time there only amounts to about 3 hours, and it's a sponge bath and getting dressed, and transferring from bed to chair, or chair to bed at the end of the day. Everything else is on Mom. We're figuring on possibly hiring some more care workers, at least until we can figure out where she goes next (assisted living apartments, or a nursing home).

And, of course, I'm trying to help as much as I can, or I was before I came back here, but I really need to concentrate on my own work. And, even outside the logistic problems, this is breaking my heart. Dad is an only child, so I and my brothers are Grammie's only grandkids. My mom's parents died early on, one when she was 11, and one when I was 3mos., so Grammie's also the only grandmother we've ever known. She babysat us, and went on vacations with us, and cooked us macaroni and cheese. She taught me how to embroider, and still displays projects I made when I was seven years old. She stitched seven "one-a-day" tea towels for my wedding, and had started a set for Big Bro, and now her right arm and wrist will likely never be able to pick up a needle.


I keep telling myself, and my family, that we're lucky - she's lived to an age where these things are becoming problems. She's 87, turning 88 in August. And, some people start coping with this stuff when their loved ones are in their 50s or 60s.

I know we'll figure it out. But, it's a crappy time to be moving out of the country, I'll tell you what.

Grammie at my wedding.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

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