In 2001 my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After years of going thru chemotherapy, radiation, and relapses her body couldn’t take it anymore. In September of 2008 while sitting in a Milford, De hospital, my grandmother and all of her family were told that she only had two months to live, and the best thing to do was to just try to stay comfortable.
My family was unwilling to accept this and insisted on her continuing with chemotherapy, even though it would not help. My mother and her brothers felt my grandmother could pull thru, but just by looking in her eyes I knew she was tired of fighting this disease. I took up the challenge of caring for my ailing grandmother.
The last thing that most 23 year olds would want to do is be stuck taking care of a sick relative, but I didn’t mind. My grandmother was there for me whenever I needed, so I wanted to do the same. As the first month passed my grandmother’s health declined further and further. Her lungs were filling with fluid, which made it hard for her to breath, so she was on oxygen all day everyday.
She also was in a lot of pain, which was eased with pain patches, and percocet. She no longer had regular doctor appointments, which angered me because I felt like they had just given up on her, and I wasn’t ready to do the same. Hospice was now in charge of my grandmother’s health concerns, so a nurse was sent to check her blood pressure and oxygen level every day. The hardest part of taking care of my grandmother was seeing her in pain and not being able to do anything about it. She couldn’t eat so her diet consisted of soup, and ensure drinks. That’s all that she could get down. She also had trouble sleeping because laying back made it difficult for her to breath. Nothing I tried helped her get comfortable. I felt helpless and as if I was failing her. Bathing her was also a hard task, because I, at the time was 8 months pregnant. My grandmother was unable to walk, barely stand, so everything (bathing, feeding and changing her) was done on the hospital bed that was provided to us by hospice.
My grandmother lived in apartment building that housed the elderly, so luckily her disability checks covered her rent and other expenses. Medicare took care of the many medications she was taking and meals on wheels made deliveries to her home everyday. On November 24 2008, just two weeks before my daughter was born, my grandmother passed away in her sleep right next to me. That was the worst day of my life and I relive it every time I think about her.
The only thing that comforted me was knowing that she was a devout Christian and she always reassured me she was going to be with God. Taking care of my grandmother made me realize how important the people in my life are to me and now I make sure they know it everyday.