A month and a half ago we learned that my grandma had cancer. She had been coughing a lot for a long time and I guess nobody thought much of it. Then she began to have a weird, raspy voice and so they want to the doctors to see what was wrong. Thinking it was bronchitis, they were pretty surprised to hear that the doctors found something in her lungs that had been spreading for what looked like a long time.
The month following that was probably the longest month of both of their lives. They learned the spreading was cancer and that it basically spread everywhere. At first the cancer doctor’s priorities were to put radiation on the lungs. I mean you need your lungs to breathe right? But then they learned that there was a tiny spot of stage 3 cancer in my grandma’s brain. So that obviously needed their attention first. But wait there’s more; They found that a lot of cancer had gotten into her legs and was eating away at the bone. She needed that fixed because her legs could just break as she was walking. Finally after giving her some different medicines her face started to swell and her neck and she was having a hard time breathing. Apparently that wasn’t supposed to happen and the doctors saw that grandma was getting some sort of big mass around her throat. So after many, many priority changes they went to fix that right away or she would just suffocate and die.
She went to cancer treatment every day for pretty much the entire day. It was exhausting for both of them and really took a toll. Something that needs to be mentioned is my grandpa is pretty lazy. He usually spends his days on his recliner, takes three naps, and has grandma do everything for him. Well when this all happened grandpa completely took over and he helped grandma with every little thing she needed. He had all the times and schedules for when their appointments were and he would take her to them and stay with her all day long. He truly rose to the challenge and she would have been lost without him. He had to learn how to do everything she’s been doing all 47 years of their marriage. Ranging from doing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc but he has started to get it all down.
After I think it was 14 radiation treatments on her legs, she got a bunch more on her lungs and brain. But after the brain one my grandpa described it as her brain was mad at her for them zapping it with the radiation and so it was sending pain to her entire body. She was in a vast amount of pain and there wasn’t much anyone could do.
She was also starting to be pretty loopy from the meds she was taking. Grandpa saw her trying to use scissors to trim her eye brows but not those normal ones and she was not using them safety. Then he found her applying 7-Up on her face as make up. Grandpa was beginning to realize that all this fighting to help her, these appointments and attempts to postpone the inevitable, were probably not going to help keep his wife alive much longer.
Yesterday at 4:30 AM, Grandpa heard that grandma needed to use the restroom so he got up and got her walker to help her. He was getting it and turned around and saw her standing on her own trying to walk. She fell and hit her head really hard. He couldn’t get her back on the bed so he rolled her on her back and called the ambulance. It was a good thing that this happened because it showed the doctors that I guess fluid had been getting into her brain and lungs (I think, may be wrong) and that there really wasn’t much to do. My mom came over to my dad’s to tell us the news and that grandma will pass away.
So I took my siblings and we went to go to the hospital. As we arrived, my grandpa had actually just arrived to from getting some stuff from his house and taking a rest after not sleeping the entire night. He hugged us hard and we walked upstairs to see grandma. We got in and her sister who hasn’t seen her in a while was there sitting beside her along with my uncle. Grandma’s eyes were closed and she looked white. Her hair so thin, and she looked very small. She’s always small but she lost 31 pounds on top of being small already. I’d never seen her like that.
The once bubbly, loving, inappropriate joke telling, child-like, grandma figure to all, lady is now on her death bed. I have been fortunate enough to live 21 years with out facing a loss as close as this. Minus my uncle who I didn’t know well. But I saw my grandma weekly. She came to watch my sister every Monday and Tuesday. I can’t imagine how my sister feels. She’s so young and she was close to my grandma. She didn’t get to know her as long as I did.
We stayed in that room for 5 hours. Grandma was heavily medicated so she didn’t really say anything or wake up. Sometimes she’d said my grandpa’s name and he’d hold her hand. But towards the end of the night she started to say “mom, mom, mom. ” constantly under her breath. She was close to her mother. If you believe in that sort of thing you could say she was beginning to see her.
When me and my siblings were going to leave, my mom and grandpa left the room and the three of us rubbed grandma’s hand and said goodbye. My sister was about to cry and my heart broke seeing such a young girl like her have to see and deal with something like that. I left thinking that might be the last time we ever see grandma alive. And I hope my siblings understood that as well.
We’re going back today. Maybe she’ll be awake and be able to talk. Or maybe we’ll never see that again.