February 15th, 2008

buffy hurts

Hell of a Day

Today was a really hard day. The last week and a half has been hard too. At around 11:30am I got a call from my mother while I was at work. My grandmother had not been feeling well last night, so my parents went to stay with her. At around 6am after taking her blood pressure and finding it dangerously low, they had EMS come get her and rush her to the emergency room. They gave her two liters of fluids on account of her severe dehydration, and it was found that she had an infection in her bladder that had spread to her kidneys and raised the acidity of her blood to dangerous levels. She was septic, her pulse at something like 34 and her kidneys and heart compromised. I got to the hospital half an hour later, and as I was walking into the ICU cardiac unit, they waved their hands wildly from the end of the hall. They were both crying and my mom said that I should say goodbye, and let my grandma know that I was there. When I walked up to the bed, there was a team of 10 nurses and doctors sticking her with all sorts of stuff. She had tubes and needles snaking out of her in all directions. It looked nightmarish. I said hi and she looked at me and absently commented to one of the doctors how tall I am. 

My grandma has always been a sharp lady, quick-witted, funny, and wordly. She's 91, and goddamn if that isn't a long, full life. She worked in advertising for most of her life writing copy, and opened her own agency in the 50s or 60s. Later on, she also started her own pasta company and trade magazine on the food industry. It should come as no surprise that she was a wonder at the written word. What an amazing story-teller. To this day, every year she sends out an annual Christmas letter to all of her friends and relatives. One year it was late and tons of people asked where it was since they so looked forward to it. It should also come as no surprise that I owe my love of writing to her. From a very young age I used to play all sorts of make believe games with her. When I was older, I would dictate stories to her, which she would then transcribe for me and bind into little books. One cherished character of mine was a singing and dancing cat named France, whose world was littered with other animals that would join her in her various adventures. During birthdays and holidays, my grandmother would be sure to always send a card and note from France to me, oftentimes signed with a little paw print. A wonderful and inspiring woman. 

I spent 7 hours or so with my parents in the ICU with her. Throughout the entire process she was alert, aware, and we could hear her talking to her attendents. That's the thing with my mom's side. Their minds are strong until the end. Bodies always crap out first. Getting old sucks. Needless to say, they got her stabilized and by the evening their was evidence that the infection was clearing, but because of the influx of fluids she was developing moisture in her lungs. They hesitated to call it pneumonia, but they're tracking it. I will likely spend much of the day with my parents there tomorrow, as well. We really thought she was going to die. Also, anything can happen at this point. That 24 hour time period is the most critical, and the rest is just a waiting game. She could go yet. However, it was refreshing to see her charming the pants off the staff, conning them into giving her some juice, and promising to hold a joint birthday party next year with her primary physician, who she discovered shared her birth date. They all loved her because she was so lively, and sharp. You don't get a lot of 90 year olds like that. She also has a dirty mind, so I suppose I must have taken after her in that respect too. Hee. 

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