I’ve written twice recently about my grandmother’s failing health.
Yesterday, she was taken to the hospital due to severe pain. After many hours of tests, I believe her current diagnosis are: pneumonia, congestive heart failure, diabetes, gangrene in the gallbladder, and nonketotic hyperosmolar coma.
She is able to hear and to see, but can’t eat, drink, or talk. She can communicate a bit in other ways though.
She has made it well known over the years that she doesn’t want heroic measures to be taken to try to save her life in a situation like this. At this point, her treatment is focusing on making her comfortable, and she probably has a few days to maybe a week or two of life left.
I went to visit her today. I walked in to her room, and she was visibly worse off than she had been a week ago. I said “Hi Grandma” as I went to her bedside. She — with effort — turned to look at me and managed to say “hi” back. Apparently that was the first word she said all day.
She was clearly in pain, sometimes grimacing from it. It was hard to see, but I am glad I got to be with her.
She wanted to hold my hand, and I sat by her bed for quite awhile doing just that. Sometimes my mom would comment that we all love each other, and I’d see grandma nod, or she’d give my hand an extra squeeze.
My brother and his wife showed up just as I had to leave. Grandma said hi to them too, and gave them a little wave.
I said goodbye as I left, and she was able to look at me and understand what was happening. I don’t know if that will be the last time I’ll say goodbye or not.
They seem to have found better ways to treat her pain by this evening, and she is resting comfortably by now. If her condition stays like this, she will probably be moved back to her nursing home room with hospice care on Monday.
She’s 94, and all of us knew that this moment would come someday. I think she is the most comfortable with the idea of her death of anyone, and utterly ready for it.