Another day dawns, and Grandpa is still with us.
It’s early in the morning. The rising sun illuminates a dense fog that blankets the surrounding fields, outlining the boundaries of pasture fences and hedgerows in a golden glow. I’m tired from taking care of him through the night watches, but I don’t want to go back to bed, not just yet.
It’s so quiet. I sit down to write – my one solace – the unburdening of my soul.
This morning I feel like my mind is in a dense fog, with little illumination. For the last three weeks, I have been turning Grandpa three times in the middle of the night. Last night between 12:00 midnight and 6:00 o’clock a.m., I actually turned him four times. I’ve never had to do that before because he sleeps on an low air loss mattress that alternates the air pressure under his body, bringing relief to the pressure ulcer he has on his bum (didn’t know we were English, did you?), but Grandpa is having a harder time clearing his lungs since coming home from the hospital in June, so turning him from side to side helps to break up the mucus.
To add insult to injury, I caught a summer cold at my granddaughter’s 1st birthday party last week, then passed it on to Grandpa. So just as his lungs cleared from all the stress his body has been through in the last few months, he’s back to coughing up flem and having to be suctioned out. If it weren’t for the suction machine, I’m sure Grandpa would have expired along time ago.
I’ve also begun slathering Vick’s Vapor Rub all over his feet again and putting his socks on over it (an old home remedy that really works). My son ordered some Dottera essential oils, Breathe and Cardamon, which I rub all over his chest. The soothing aroma makes me feel like I am anointing the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume. Maybe I am.
Getting up throughout the night isn’t as bad as it could be. I usually wake up around 3:00 a.m. to use the bathroom anyway, my post menopausal body being the best alarm clock there is. I always turn the hallway light on and peek in on Grandpa to make sure he’s alright. Of course, he is in the exact same position I left him. He can’t roll from side to side, partly because of the pillows I have stuffed under each elbow, but Grandpa hasn’t turned on his own for years, the air mattress and pump doing all movement for his blood to keep circulating.
As he declines, however, I see the core strength he used to have diminishing. The stiffness in his upper body seems paralyzing. I remembered what one of his previous doctors with MD2U told me: turning clears the lungs. So I’ve been turning Grandpa and it’s really kept him from getting phenomenon.
Both he and I run on the Lord’s strength. There is no other explanation as to why he is still here, and why I am still able to care for him like this in his final days. I’m really sad, though. It’s not because of what I have to do, but because of what I may not be doing much longer – taking care of Grandpa.
The doctor told me yesterday, I’m so close to the situation, I can’t really see Grandpa declining, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. On the other hand, maybe she’s right. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part to think that he can pull through another urinary tract infection.
In the meantime, I will continue to turn, turn, turn . . .