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Not a good day....

Posted by kjtessanne 8 Bryan, TX (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 24, 06 at 21:57

These seem to be more common as of late. Over my Christmas break, my grandfather went into the hospital and was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia. Although at 92 things like this can almost be expected, it didn't make it any easier for me to return to TX. However, things were looking up a few days later. He was able to return home, they put him on a low dose of chemo since the rest of him was surprisingly healthy, and he was attending physical therapy. But this week I found out that he has continued to lose weight and has no appetite, and he went back into the hospital today. They also said that the chemo hasn't had any effect and they are afraid to raise the dose due to his condition and age. They have tried a prescription to increase his appetite but that hasn't helped either. To make matters worse, my grandmother is stuck at home, literally losing her mind. She's 86 and has extremely high blood pressure, and quit taking her meds a couple months ago. Now her memory hasn't been too good for quite some time, but now it's worse. She puts things away and then accuses people of stealing them because she forgot where she put them. She says a lot of things that make no sense, and she can't begin to digest what all is going on with grandpa. My mother, who works in a hospital and understands everything that is going on, has tried and tried to explain things but it never gets through. All she can see is that grandpa isn't home. My poor mother is working full-time midnights, and has been taking grandpa to therapy and appointments and is just exhausted. I feel so helpless. On top of all this, the university is charging me money back from my loan due to a miscalculation on their part, and I've got class and lab work.... Some days I think I am going to lose it. But then I breathe.... I am sorry but I just needed to get all of this out.

Thanks, Kim


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Not a good day....

I think one of the hardest things is watching someone you care about going through an illness, especially when they're too young, or too old, or too sick to understand what's going on. And then to be trying to deal with a stressful situation like school and loans and all on top of that--they say sometimes school is supposed to teach you how to deal with 'real' life, and I'd say they're going out of their way! Anyway--my thoughts are with you, for what good it does. And with your mother!


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RE: Not a good day....

  • Posted by fishies Ottawa z4a or 5 (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 25, 06 at 8:55

Sweet Mary, Kim! That is a nasty piece of business. I'm so sorry. Sounds like you have an idea that something is wrong with your grandmother, too, huh? Sending you some good wishes.

About the university thing - go talk to them and see about making a payment plan, or getting a bursary to cover the extra cash. All universities have money set aside to help students that are unexpectedly in need. They may be big business, but they do want to keep their clients.

Shelly


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RE: Not a good day....

Hello all and thank you for the kind thoughts. This is a stressful situation, moreso because my family is back in Ohio while I am down here in TX by myself. Even if I wanted to be there right now I couldn't, plane tickets cost a good bit and it's a 2-day drive. Not to mention my pets needing cared for. This makes it more frustrating. As for my grandmother, yes she has had problems for a few years now. Her untreated high blood pressure caused her to black out a few years back when I was in Wisconsin (also grad school). She fell down a set of stairs and cracked her head open on a stone wall in the basement. Now no one can tell her that she has no business being on those stairs at her age, even though we have tried. It was then discovered that she needed a triple bypass, which she came through ok. She had some memory loss before that, but afterwards it got worse. And now that she is off of her meds, it's getting way worse. I walked in to the room once and she looked at me like she didn't know who I was. She's mixing things up and overall is just getting very confused. On top of all that she is a very stubborn woman. Now when she had surgery, I was able to drive home in a day, But now it's just harder...

As for the money situation, I think I got that straightened out for now after talking with a financial aid counselor today. At least I hope it's ok this time. I had to take out more loans, but I guess that's just part of school.

Thanks again for listening, Kim


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RE: Not a good day....

Long distance caregiving is really hard. But it is so very nice that you care. At the very least, you can lend an ear to your Mom. So many of our families choose not to get involved-even a long distance phone call.

Have they talked about getting home health involved. Your Mom might be able to get some support that way. Hospice is another thought. We have a family in our apartments. He is 91 and diagnosed with lung cancer. She is 90 and has advanced alzheimer's. Hospice became involved because he chose not to treat the cancer. That was over a year ago and he is doing really good. His wife's dementia got worse and worse and then she fell and broke her hip. She ended up in a nursing home but made that adjustment quite well. Hospice has been a wonderful support for this family


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RE: Not a good day....

I don't know what advice to give you about your family, Kim, and I don't have two dimes to rub, but I'm sending you a shoutout and a hug, all wrapped up with a bow of good thoughts and sent most expeditiously.


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RE: Not a good day....

Oh, Kim, I wish there were something helpful I could say. You must be under tremendous stress-- you already had the issue of your family's farm status weighing on you, if I remember correctly.
It stinks watching people you love deterioriate. If only our bodies and minds would wear out at the same instant!
It's a good idea to get your mom some help, alright. In the mean time, I'm sure you're there for her emotionally, and I imagine that will mean a lot to her. Best of luck to you and your family. God bless you all.
I'm glad the financial situation worked out. At least that's one less worry for the time being.


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RE: Not a good day....

Well...I spoke with my mom this morning. They are very concerned about my grandfather's weakness and are having him moved to a healthcare center close to home (the hospital is about 40 min away). Mom is familiar with this place as she used to draw blood for them way back when. They also have assigned a social worker which is the wife of a good neighbor of theirs. They are encouraging mom to let them take the brunt of my grandmother's confusion and outbursts and to let them help out. They also had some strong words I guess for my grandmother when they were at the hospital yesterday, ie. you shouldn't be on any stairs, you should see a doctor about your hip, etc, etc. Of course she didn't listen to a word of it. My fear is that at this point he will never return home. Not many people who go into those places ever leave. What is sad is that he has lived a full life, he's 92, and in my opinion he deserves to be at home when the time comes. But the decision is of course not ours to make.

Jen-yes, we did have a large issue with the family farm before. Fortunately that has all worked out. My parents sold 50 acres of the land back in April and used the money to pay off most of their debts. They also put up a doublewide on another section of the property which is nicer and a lot larger than what they had before. See, that's the thing...they finally got to a point where they could enjoy themselves a little and now all this is happening... It just doesn't seem fair to them.

In the end, what happens is left up to higher powers. I can accept that. I just wish things like this didn't always happen while I am away. Thanks all again for the good wishes.

Thanks, Kim


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RE: Not a good day....

Hey Kim,
I was you about 3 or 4 years ago! Your Gma sounds EXACTLY like mine was and it was my Dad that was her main caregiver, who ended up having a big ole heartattack at the age of 51. Fortunatly, Dad turned out fine after bypass. Gma, because of the stage of her dementia refused to let others help due to her thoughts of them stealing from her. She had a wonderful support system other then that. I went home to try to help her out while Dad was in the hospital only to wake up one morning to her slapping the crap out of me screaming I was nothing but an alcoholic like my father and she was going to beat me to teach me a lesson. My dad doesn't drink, never has and I barely drink. She had just lost her liscense due to a break and enter she did at someones house who she thought had stolen her mothers rocking chair! Poor stubborn Gma! Needless to say, she ended up in a wonderful nursinghome, which was REALLY hard at first, but after about 6 mt she became accustom to the routine and we now know she's safe. She was about 72 when this began.
As far as Gpa goes, there is no encouraging words to say. It would be nice if he could live out his last bit of time in his home, but he then would be doing it trying to take care of Gma and worrying about her. I feel for you honey, I do! And I can tell you that I've seen people older then him make amazing recoveries (I work in ER) and surprise everyone. You have nothing to lose with hope.
Your Mom, she has now officially earned her place at the pearly gates! And I wish you could be home for your family, but I'm sure Gma and Gpa would tell you not to leave school. They already know you love them and are thinking about them.
Your in my prayers!
C~


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continued

Well...I spoke with my mom this morning. They are very concerned about my grandfather's weakness and are having him moved to a healthcare center close to home (the hospital is about 40 min away). Mom is familiar with this place as she used to draw blood for them way back when. They also have assigned a social worker which is the wife of a good neighbor of theirs. They are encouraging mom to let them take the brunt of my grandmother's confusion and outbursts and to let them help out. They also had some strong words I guess for my grandmother when they were at the hospital yesterday, ie. you shouldn't be on any stairs, you should see a doctor about your hip, etc, etc. Of course she didn't listen to a word of it. My fear is that at this point he will never return home. Not many people who go into those places ever leave. What is sad is that he has lived a full life, he's 92, and in my opinion he deserves to be at home when the time comes. But the decision is of course not ours to make.

Jen-yes, we did have a large issue with the family farm before. Fortunately that has all worked out. My parents sold 50 acres of the land back in April and used the money to pay off most of their debts. They also put up a doublewide on another section of the property which is nicer and a lot larger than what they had before. See, that's the thing...they finally got to a point where they could enjoy themselves a little and now all this is happening... It just doesn't seem fair to them.

In the end, what happens is left up to higher powers. I can accept that. I just wish things like this didn't always happen while I am away. Thanks all again for the good wishes.

Thanks, Kim


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oops

ooops..somehow that posted again...sorry

Kim


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RE: Not a good day....

Dear Kim,

As they say in the Antipodes, no worries, mate - we like hearing from you twice.


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RE: Not a good day....

Kim,

My experiences with my grandparents when they got older is much different than what you are going through. My father's father died 10 years before I was born so I never knew him. My father's mother contracted cancer when she was 68 years old. She deteriorated for about six months after being diagnosed and died. My grandmother lived in Denmark and we lived in Nebraska. In some ways it was easier because we really couldn't do anything to help. Both of my mom's parents died without prolonged illness, so again I didn't have to see them suffer. I didn't have the experience of feeling helpless about not being able to do anything for them.

I have an Aunt whose husband has Alzheimer's disease. He is now in a nursing home and doesn't even know who she is. There is nothing anyone can do for him or her. They both live so far away from everyone else in the family. As Jen said, it seems unfair to people to have their minds go before their bodys.

I know what you mean about not being ready for a loved one to get cancer. A close family member of mine contracted cancer in a few months ago. No one was ready for it. I know I wasn't.

My heart goes out to you. I wish there was something more that I could say or do for you. You sound like a very courageous daughter and granddaughter. The frustration of not being able to be there and help out is obviously very difficult. You are definitely in my prayers.

Take care,

Larry


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RE: Not a good day....

Thanks again to everyone for listening and for your encouraging words. I talked with my mom this evening. She took grandpa to the health care center today, and she said it was the most depressing day of her life. He already hates it there. She told him to give some time, try doing the therapy every day, and if he still wants to come home in a couple weeks she'll come get him. Then at least he could be home. I guess he has gained some strength back and is walking with a cane now instead of the walker. As for my grandma, she apparently has finally agreed to go back to the doctor next week. Her hip has been hurting for awhile now. Mom is feeling quite overwhelmed and depressed, she told me a long time ago that she would never put her parents in a nursing home. But now she had no choice. Now more than ever I wish I could be there to help. I am trying to be strong for her. I only wish I had someone who could be strong for me. I used to like living alone, but now it just gives me too much time to think and worry. Thanks again to everyone here, your words mean a lot.

Kim


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RE: Not a good day....

Hi Kim,
I just read this thread and I hope you are doing okay.
Salt is VERY important for older people. My grandmother is 92 and had a stroke and couldn't remember anyone. We thought the stroke had really done some damage but it was a salt deficiency that caused her memory loss. That was about 3 years ago. It only took a little bit of salt and she started remembering. Now, she remembers things that everyone else has long forgotten. Give it a try. We all know what works for chemo, but at his age, it might be difficult to get him to try it.
John


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RE: Not a good day....

Thanks John. My grandmother, who is having the memory problems, also suffers from very high blood pressure, so I think salt is not even allowed. However, I bet she still dabbles in it. Her HBP is not treated right now, she went off of her medication a couple months ago. We are trying to convince her to go back to the doctor but so far have been unscuccessful. Her mental issues have been more than forgetfulness though. It also includes delusions, mixed memories, making things up...how she is doing changes from day to day. My grandfather came home from the nursing home yesterday at his own request. He has been gaining strength from eating and physical therapy, but they wanted to do a home check to see if it was ok to release him and he panicked. Not only would it not be good for my grandmother for strangers to come into the house (she wouldn't understand), he knew at his age and condition if they met her they probably would never let him come home. So he took his chance. I can't blame him, and so far he seems to be happy with his choice although I think he is starting to face the fact that he won't be able to fight the cancer. Right now he is off the chemo, it didn't really help him and they are afraid to up the dose. He has also developed diabetes and they are seeing the doctor Monday to see what they need to do for that. He wants to continue the physical therapy too. I think right now the hardest part is knowing the inevitable is coming, both for us and him. It's simply a matter of time now. And the worst part is my grandmother just doesn't understand. My poor mother, who lives across the street, deals with this every day and it makes me wish I was there to help her. But since I am in TX in school I can't be there. I am hoping to visit at the end of the semester, barring any complications prior to that.

Kim


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