Today has been a roller coaster to say the least. Yesterday I had to take my grandmother back to Immediate Care because she was having a hard time breathing. My mom decided to go with me. Since she had not been cleared of Covid 19 yet, we had to go back to the tent to be seen. The doctor said that she needed to go inside the building because she thought it was something else. Both my mom and I had to help my grandmother walk as she winced in pain every step of the way. My Nana is STRONG and she would usually refuse our help but she was in so much pain she agreed for any relief she could get. We were not allowed to go into the building with her and had to sit outside. Finally a nurse came to get me so that I could go inside and speak with the doctor. He told me that he was worried about her, that she didn’t look good, her heart was beating really fast and she was breathing heavily. He needed her to be transported to the ER. If I could guarantee she would go straight there and felt comfortable driving her, he would release her to me otherwise he was calling 911 for an ambulance. At this point, panic began to sink in. This is where Chicken Little Stephie would normally take over and would be running around (in my head) like my head just got chopped off. But, the information that was being relayed to me was for my grandmother – my hero and I had to push away all my personal nonsense for her. This is where my “just the facts” mentality went into overdrive. I knew that if I showed any panic, he would call for an ambulance and I wouldn’t know the next time I would be able to see my grandmother. I told him I would take her straight there. He told me that she needed tests done that could not be completed there – blood work, x-ray and CT Scan. I left the door open as he said he was going to get paperwork and someone to wheel her out so she wouldn’t have to walk again. That’s when I overheard him ask the nurse to perform and EKG to rule out a heart attack. My whole body started tingling and my eyes filled with tears but, I had to put on a brave face for my Nana who was looking right at me (she was in too much pain to be paying attention to what was being said outside of the room). The nurse came in and did the EKG (they said she was tachycardic) and the doctor gave the green light for my Nana to go but said they would do another EKG at the hospital as well.
We got my Nana in the car and headed to the hospital. We were talking to her about what she needed to do, questions to ask and so forth. We were trying so hard not to cry. She moaned and groaned from the pain. We pulled up to the ER and helped her out of the car, right then a nurse walked by, noticed we needed assistance and grabbed a wheelchair. We had to say goodbye to my Nana there. We couldn’t wheel her to the door, to the check-in counter, nothing. Mom hugged her, I couldn’t because I had to remain level headed as I was the one driving. Mom was crying before she even got in the car, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves, we couldn’t just leave her there – feeling sick and weak and all by herself, my selfless Nana to do this by herself when she has always been by our side. I can’t explain how helpless we felt. So, we decided to go to Walgreens and buy her a charger for her phone in case she had to stay or when she was discharged and she could use it in the car. Anything to feel like we were being of help.
While at Walgreens, my Nana calls my mom to tell her it is going to be a few hours while they run tests. I hear my mom shriek with excitement – calling family to say that Nana doesn’t have Covid-19 and she will be discharged in a few hours. I had to tell my mom that the information was coming from Nana who is in lots of pain and therefore may not be understanding things as they are being told to her. In order to not be Chicken Little, in order to be able to be 100% for my Nana, I needed to stick with Just the Facts! I told my mom, they didn’t say Nana didn’t have Covid-19, they don’t have the results yet. It will be a few hours for them to run tests and then we will know what will be happening from there. That’s what we need to tell people. That information is void of feelings and accurate. This is what we say.
We were able to go to my best friend’s house to practice some social distancing in the backyard instead of sitting in the car for hours. It was a much needed respite. I have not seen her in a few weeks and she always knows the right thing to say. Our minds rested a bit as we anxiously waited for news. I called the hospital several times at the request of my Nana and then finally was told that they would be admitting her but, no one could tell me why. I was frustrated and didn’t want to leave her but, now well into the evening we could head home.
No one got sleep last night or this morning as we had to keep calling my Nana for an update. She had not been seen by the admitting doctor and therefore was still in the ER without food or a pillow and couldn’t rest. She didn’t get into a room until 6am this morning and no food until 10am. I hate that I can’t be there with her to be her advocate. I am trying not to bug the nurses but, she’s not asking for help that she needs, she is calling us to bring her something or to do something when we can’t get in the door.
We’ve talked to her on and off today, according to her, she has severe pneumonia and the fluid in her lungs is too thick to drain so she will be having surgery tomorrow to remove the fluid build-up. Oh, they got the results back and she does not have Covid-19! So, again, just the facts. Another CT Scan was done. She is on meds that are taking the edge off according to her but may be working a little too good from what I could tell on one phone call with her. The nurse I spoke with confirmed the surgery tomorrow and that my Nana was in an isolation room but now that she tested negative they would be moving her to a regular room – Nana was happy about that because she said the air was super loud in her room. I just got off the phone with Nana and she is now in the regular room but has a roommate that was already asleep. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so, I will get more information from the nursing staff in the morning. The nice nurse did say that Nana would not be coming home tomorrow either because she had to be monitored after surgery.
My mom says that she has to keep telling herself everything is going to be okay because it has to be and that’s her way to cope. I’ve been trying that lately and it’s not been working out for me. I don’t have my normal support system and I feel like I am grasping for the rope as it is falling out of my reach. All the work I have been doing on myself lately, I have learned that what I have done in the past has not been working and this time, I only have me to hold at the end of the night, which means the big girl panties have to come on and stay on. In order to stay focused, I came up with just the facts. I can’t think of what’s going to happen tomorrow or a good or bad outcome. I have to work with what I have been given which is just the facts. I have all the information I need to know what it going on with my grandmother. It is my duty to pray and ask those around me to do the same. Her air conditioning broke yesterday and it was my responsibility today to make sure that it was fixed before she returned home so she would be comfortable. I bear the burden of collecting the data, asking the right questions and relaying it to all of those that need it. I am required to remember the important information and to call the staff and make demands on my Nana’s behalf. I should not have to do this from home, I should be there in the room on the guest chair watching her sleep so she can rest.
But, then I remember, I can’t go there. Chicken Little runs around like an idiot accomplishing nothing and I’m not that person anymore. I show up and get shit done now. I work with just the facts and quickly formulate a plan. I am the one that my family is looking to – to handle the care of our matriarch. Just the facts, she is having surgery tomorrow – as of right now, in the afternoon. The latest CT Scan is from today and she is now finally resting. It’s finally my chance to rest too.
I have learned from my past and am changing the playing field. I’ve got this and I will do whatever I need to in order to ensure my Nana is back home with us as quickly as possible. We have had an outpouring of support and prayers. You find out who’s in your corner at times like these. It’s easy to be there when the going is easy, the strong are separated from the weak when the going gets tough. This “Chicken Little” is always there, through thick and thin, even if I’m running around with my head cut-off. I appreciate all of the love. I am exhausted but, I am so fucking proud of myself.
Nana, this is for you! ❤