Who are the Grands?

They are 90 and 93, and they live each day like there is no tomorrow. Because there may not be. Their minds are not what they used to be and their bodies are breaking down bit by bit, but inside those old minds and bodies they are the same independent-minded young people that forged their own way in this world and made a good life for themselves. This is both a blessing and a challenge, as you'll see in the posts below. Welcome to our journey!

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Learning as I Go - Persistence, Patience, and Wisdom

If you have read any of my posts, you know that my grandpa has terminal cancer. He currently has cancer of the prostate, spine, colon, bladder, liver, and just recently it has spread to his brain. For the record, he also has a non-lethal skin cancer on his head. That's why he always wears a hat, no matter where he is. In this picture, we were at the Nutcracker ballet at the Coronado Theater in December. He was already sick, but none of us knew it.

Hospice stopped treatment on his head a few weeks ago because it was excruciatingly painful and it was not going to heal before he passes. Really, the sores on his head are the least of his problems. 

Over the past few days, however, my grandma has decided that his head needed to be treated again. She has kept telling me, "It's getting worse, it's getting worse." I reply, "Yes, the sores are bigger but that cancer cannot really hurt him." She would just shake her head at me in irritation and continue talking about how great his head was doing before we got hospice. Every day for the past week, Grandma has told me again how much better his head was doing before hospice, when the other wound care nurse was helping with it. And every day for the past week, I have told Grandma that we stopped treating his head because it was extremely painful and it wasn't going to be cured. And every day, she would say the same thing to me again. The Bickford nurses and the hospice nurse have all told her the same thing. But Grandma has persisted, complaining that no one listens to her. 

After being ignored for almost a week, Grandma took matters into her own hands. She has no medication for his head in their apartment, but she had large bandages that she began putting on his head. I noticed the first pad Wednesday morning. I asked Grandma, and she claimed the nurse had done it. I said that it was going to be incredibly painful to take it off. She claimed that it would be fine if they just used some vaseline on it. Well, that afternoon the hospice nurse had to pull it off and it was excruciatingly painful, as predicted. We talked to Grandma about it. Grandma was very angry and claimed that he needed to have his head treated and it didn't hurt that much if they did it right. 

The next day, Thursday, there was another pad. The Bickford nurse told me that she had pulled one off and that when she had come in a few hours later Grandma had already put another pad on his head. We left it on until Friday because no one wanted to be the bad guy and pull it off. 

Today Lydia, brave Lydia, took on the challenge on Friday. She went in with the intent of taking the pad off Grandpa's head, convincing Grandma to accept that his head could not be treated, and taking all of the pads out of the room. She spent an hour in there talking with them, and by the end Grandma had accepted it. She let Lydia take the pads out even though she was very nervous about it. 

By this evening, Grandma was already complaining again that no one listens to her. She had forgotten most of what Lydia had told her. All she remembered was that no one had done it her way. She told me she doesn't like hospice because they won't listen to her. She told me that she knows best because she's the one with Grandpa all the time. She believes that she knows better than all the doctors and nurses combined because Grandpa belongs to her. The complaining hasn't ceased, but at least I know Grandpa's head won't hurt anymore. 

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