Tuesday, April 08, 2008

An Undying Love

The love and devotion between my grandparents is breath taking. They are 92 and 89 and have been married for 68 years come this May.

My grandfather has been ill for several years. Dementia has slowly crept in like rising water levels, slow enough for them to manage, but to an outside person coming in to see them, they are amazed at how well they function together.

For 68 years they have been constantly by each other's side. If one was in the hospital, the other was sleeping in the chair next to the bed. Absolute devotion.

Over a week ago, my grandfather fell while getting out of the shower. My grandmother - who still bathes him even though she is 89 herself - had turned around for a moment, he lost his balance while drying off and fell. He broke 5 ribs.

Thanks to a hospital system that refuses to listen and thinks they have all the answers, they took a functioning 92 yr old man who was still able to walk, feed himself and function in day to day life with assistance and in 48 hours gave us a bed bound vegetable who couldn't do anything for himself. It wasn't until my mother and I got there and started questioning every drug that wandered in every 2 hours that we were able to plant our feet in the ground and refuse all the "help" they were giving us. No he does not need blood pressure medicine, he was not on blood pressure medicine before, it is elevated because he is in pain. No he doesn't need Alzheimer and anti-psychotic drugs, he functions just fine, you don't just drug him to drug him.

I could go on, but this is a post for another time, back to our love story.

My point is, this is the first time they have been apart for as long as they have been apart. My grandmother cannot tolerate being in the hospital for long hours at a time, and just recently has become ill from the stress. The first day we arrived at the hospital and she did not come in after us, grandpa asked for her then broke into tears of worry when we told him that she was resting because she wasn't feeling well. He was worried that no one was with her and she might fall. This poor sweet man with 5 broken ribs, a chest tube and weak as a kitten was worried to tears over his precious wife of 68 years, not even thinking of himself. They pulled the chest tube and immediately he started asking for his clothes and wanting to talk to the doctor, because he wanted to go home.

He is not going to go home, at least not anytime soon. We will be transferring him to a rehab nursing facility for awhile, and the decision may have to made that he has to stay there. No one..... absolutely no one can have that conversation with them. I know my poor grandmother is torn between her undying devotion to him and her knowledge that she cannot take care of him anymore. I don't know if the answer is them living apart, or living together with live in help, or what.

Oh, it is so beautiful and it is absolute torture all at the same time.

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