Tuesday, August 16

Technical Difficulties

Well, due to some aircraft malfunctions...Sarah's not coming home until this afternoon. Dad and i will be leaving around 3 to go pick her up at LAX...ugh. But at least she'll be home!
It's August...and it's cold. It's cold. whaaaa?

In other news, We're all trying to figure out how to handle quite a delicate and mystifying issue...
What do you do with someone who's sick...but wants to die?
You all who have read my blog for a while (and my friends, naturlich) know that my family and i live with my grandparents and are caring for them, along with regular 24-hour help from 5 excellent ladies. Anyone who has read my blog for a while also knows what a charming guy my grandpa is. (dripping sarcasm)

Doctor's visits consist of his excalamations of, "I should be dead by now," when he takes his meds at breakfast and dinner you can hear him muttering under his breath "why do I take these damn pills," and nearly every morniing as he struggles out of bed, he wonders why he just won't die.

For a few months now he has been developing congestion in his chest and throat, and in the last few weeks it's evolved into a terrible rasping, grating cough that literally makes it sound as if we'll see a lung or something popping out of his mouth. He's also gotten more and more bitter...threatening to strike my grandma, and actually taking swings at some of our caregivers. He radiates unhappiness and malcontent...and the only time you see him smile is if he feels he's made a particularly brilliant little joke on someone else's behalf. He's lost any ounce of politeness, manners or cooperation...he won't even take a shower once a week with a helper unless forced to. And now that he's feeling so lousy, you can imagine how his attitude has far from improved. And he won't go to the doctor. Flat out refuses.

A couple of months ago, mom was alone with him in the house when she heard him calling her name.
She went out to find him in the middle of the hallway, leaning on his walker. "What is it, dad?" she asked him.
His unfocused gaze passed her as he answered wearily, "Where do I go to check out?"
Mom, a bit taken aback had to mull over this a moment, and asked him what he meant. He merely repeated himself. It was apparent that a little heart to heart was in order.
She sat him in the living room and leaned on his knees like a little child, and again, tried to figure out what to say.
"Do you mean 'where do I go to die?'" she asked him. He said yes.
"Dad, I don't know. If I knew I would tell you. But you're just going to have to wait until the good Lord decides to take you."
She told him she loved him, and she told him that if he went, grandma would be taken care of. We figured long ago that really the only thing keeping him around is my grandma. So she wanted him to understand that.

A week or so ago, my grandpa was literally making the house a living nightmare...fits of rage, cursing and insults plagued the house and one of our caregivers almost left us for good. This time the talk my mom had with her father wasn't so gentle. She flat-out told him that if he didn't make an effort to display even an ounce of kindness or cooperation we would be forced to put him in a home...because we can't keep him around if he won't let us take care of him.
She then went on to an even deeper issue...his relationship with God.

We don't know if my grandpa is saved or not. My grandma, though very ritualistic and nonchalant at times about her faith, i know has a relationship with Jesus...no matter how small, it's there. And that's all it takes. A wonderful example of this can be seen here.
Mom told him that he needed to start thinking about where he's heading, and where he stands in God's eyes. "There are qualities that I see displayed in the lives of older people I know that know the Lord, dad. And I don't see those qualities in you and it scares me." She addressed his cursing, his taking of the name of Jesus in vain, and telling people to go to hell. "If you really know what you were saying when you said that...you would not be saying it." When he got all upset and told her to give it a rest, she only stood firmer. "I'm prepared for you to not like me, if only i can tell you the truth. You have to think about these things...you have to do it now." She told him, on the verge of tears, "I want to see you in heaven, dad."
I really wish i could remember the whole thing...it was really beautiful what she told him.

When she said "I love you" to him, she was thrown back the usual, "Yea? Do you really?", delivered with the utmost bitterness.
And things were a bit better for a day or two. Until his cough worsened.

As of a few days ago, things have gotten pretty bad. He'll lay on the couch coughing and fighting to breathe. His body is under so much strain from the wracking spasms in his chest, we're having to give him pain medication regularly. But he denys having a cough, and when my mom told him the other night that he was wheezing, he said to her, "No I'm not. You don't know what the hell you're talking about." Then, literally toying with her, he wheezed his breath in and out, exaggerated and pained, and snickered at her as she stood over him.
Mom says that he knows exactly what he's doing. "I think he even knows what's wrong with himself," she told Susan (our primary helper) and i the other night. "I think he's excited because he know that if he lets this go, it could turn into pnemonia and he could die." My grandpa used to be an incredible doctor, so it makes complete sense.

What he doesn't know, is that their doctor is doing something almost unheard of these days...she's making a house call and is coming today to see him. My mom is coming home from work early so she can be here.
And it is not going to be pretty.

We almost wish we could just let it go...the man is 91 and has no will to live, for heaven's sake! But we can't just sit around and do nothing. If we can at least keep him comfortable until he passes that will be okay. There's a reason why he's stuck around so long. I know that God is trying to break throught to him. But the last thing we want to do is pump the guy full of medicine that will only prolong his suffering. Last night my mom broke down, and i wished so badly i could do something.
All i can do is pray for peace...and the hope that someday my mom will see her dad in heaven.

I just wonder how long things can go on this way...


JohnH985 said...

That's a very tough situation. My sypmpathies go out to you and your family. I wish I had some magic words to tell you that would make everything better, but unfortunately there aren't any words like that. I guess all you can do is try to hold on to the memories of your granpa when he was better and nicer. And as bad as it probably makes your mom feel she might have to put him in a home, there is only so much she can do for him and from the sounds of things it's not getting better and he's not making it any easier. Well, good luck with it all, hopefully things will work out.

Good news that your sister is coming home! I'm so jealous, getting to go to Russia, that's a trip of a lifetime.

peregrin said...

i'll be praying for your grandpa. i admire the patience and love of your family, your mom especially.