A Rude Awakening

Everyday for the past 9 days I have been to see and spend time with my grandmother. She’s in a convalescent home for rehabilitation so she can eventually, hopefully, come home. My mother and I are usually there at the same time, around lunch and dinner. The food is absolutely horrible and unidentifiable, so we make and take her her favorite foods. I think this is the only bright spot of her day.

My grandmother is 86 years old. She retired at the age of 81 after working for the same doctor for 45 years. She put herself through nursing school at the age of 30 while raising 3 kids on her own. She was an RN for this doctor until she was physically unable to do so. At that point, the doctor made her office manager. She was well loved by all of the doctor’s patients and was so good at her job, sometimes the doctor let her see the patients herself without seeing him. Needless to say, she has a very good medical background.

Now my grandmother lays in a bed in convalescent home, her biggest fear. Mind you, even after having brain surgery to correct a bleed, she is sharp as a tack. She has an amazing ability with numbers. She can tell you exactly how much money is in her bank account, what her interest rate is, even the account numbers. She is alert and quite able to have a conversation with anyone she meets. The problem is, accept for her family, everyone in this convalescent hospital seems to think she has the mind of a child. They talk to her or over her, not with her. That’s even if they talk to her at all. She is weak on her right side from the bleedin her brain, but that’s it. She can sit up and wants to, but they won’t let her. She has asked for someone to help her to the restroom, but rather than do that, they’ve put her in a diaper which she does not need. Their reasoning? “We’re too busy”. This afternoon when I went to see her at lunch time she told me she had been sitting in a dirty diaper for 3 hours. When the nurse came in with her lunch, I told her she would eat after someone cleaned and changed her. She said she would come back and do it after lunch. This pissed me off to no end.
“Would you like to sit in a dirty diaper while you ate your lunch? I think not, so change her now or find someone who will”. She gave me the dirtiest look but did what I asked. The thing is though, I shouldn’t have had to ask.

Today when I walked into the convalescent home, sitting in a wheel chair on the other side of the glass door was a woman, probably in her 80’s, her hair done and dressed up in a suit. She didn’t even notice me walk in but it was obvious she was waiting for someone’s arrival. Two hours later as I was leaving, I noticed she was still sitting there. From behind her I could see her head was down resting in her hand and I thought maybe she had a headache or had fallen asleep. (You see a lot of wheelchair-bound people in the hallways asleep in their wheelchairs). When I walked past her to go out the doors, I turned back to smile at her. But instead, my heart broke for her. She had her head down in her hand and she was crying softly. Whoever it was she was waiting for never showed. This killed me. Oh my friggin’ God! Who the hell would do that to someone?? No matter how bad off my grandma may become, there will never be a day I will not visit her. My mom and I are the only regular visitors that go there. All the patients know us now and always make a point to say hello or be by the door to await our arrival. Yesterday I took a dozen carnations and as I walked down the hall, I gave every patient I saw a flower. They were so happy and touched. One little lady who’s 90 started to cry. They are so damn lonely.

I’m so angry! Angry at the children that don’t come to see their parent. Angry at the poor care of the convalescent home. Angry at our government who absolutey refuses to take better care of our elderly. If I had the ability to take care of every one of those people in that hospital, I would. It’s so damn heartbreaking. As long as my grandmother is in there, I will continue to visit with the other patients there as well. I don’t know if my grandmother will ever leave there. She knows my uncle has a few weeks left of life. She will not see him again. She cannot go to him and he cannot come to her. She has said over and over again that she does not want to outlive her son. I completely understand. What parent wouldn’t feel that way? She’s giving up. She’s tired.

All I can do is continue to do what I am supposed to do as any grandchild should do. I will visit my grandmother everyday and I will visit all of those beautiful, wonderful, lonely people who are there as well…..even after my grandmother is long gone.


10 Responses to “A Rude Awakening”

  1. jeni Says:

    it is sad, isn’t it?

    memaw (my mom’s mom) was in a nursing home right before she died. and they treated her horrendously. so much to the point that my mother took her from there.

    at that point they called the police & threatened to have my mom arrested for kidnapping. it was obvious that they only wanted her money. they abused her, stole her stuff & generally ignored her. and this was one of the better ones in miami. nice, huh??

    in the end, my memaw died in a place that she hated. that she was mistreated. that she was abused in. and the cops did nothing. and there was basically nothing my mom could do.

    you’re right. the US doesn’t do enough for the elderly. it breaks my heart to know that my memaw died in such a horrible place.

    i’m sorry you’re going through all this sweetie. call me if you need ANYTHING, ok?


  2. Bedazzzled1 Says:

    Awww, Chris. I am so sorry. It is all very, very sad. Daddy was in a nursing home for just shy of six years. It can be hell. I feel for you and your grandmother, but you are doing the right things.

    I always hated how people would talk around Daddy. They would look at us and ask if he wanted something. I would always say, “Let’s ask him” and then I would make a production out of asking him myself. Those nurses and aides got the message fairly quickly that HE was the one they should talk to, and then to us if he was unable to communicate.

    The only choice you have is to stay on top of every single thing, and that means daily visits. I have no regrets, because I was there for him every day. I was also in the face of anyone who I felt was not providing him with the care and dignity he deserved to have. Oddly enough, the staff liked me even though I was vocal.

    ::tight hug::

  3. DesLily Says:

    I’ve talked on the subject of how this country treats the elderly a few times.. nothing will ever get done unless YOUNG people get involved to the point it gets to the government. Most don’t care until it involves one of their own.. they seem to forget that they WILL be one of them one day.. everyone seems to have the feeling “that won’t happen to me”.. and they are all in for a big surprise.

    I don’t know the answers.. but I do know that NOT DOING ANYTHING TO CHANGE IT.. is NOT the answer..

  4. DEREK Says:

    Chris, it’s 9:00 am in the morning, I’m sitting here at work blubbering like a little baby, your words touched me. I’m calling a nursing home today. I grew up practically in a nursing home on the weekends. It’s time to go back.

  5. D Says:

    oh honey. I’m so thankful your gramma has you. I hope my kids come see me someday! Most all nursing homes are like that. It’s amazing how understaffed and underpaid and undereducated the staffing are. I’m sorry!

  6. Tammy Says:

    Chris, this was my biggest fear when I was told about the ALS as a single mom. I knew the stories and being young it was too overwhelming. I’m so glad you are there and making her stay more bearable. Taking away a person’s dignity can be detrimental in their will to live. Keep being heard, go to the top and keep fighting for her.

    You are a phenomenal person 🙂

    Sending prayers, strength and love!

  7. Suz Says:

    My heart breaks for your grandma. I dont understand how nursing homes can treat people like that. Something definitely has to be done about.

    You are a wonderful grandaughter & person.

    Prayers for your grandmother.

    Hugs Suz

  8. Faith Says:

    My Granny was my heart. Your Mother and Grandmother must be very proud of the woman that you are. God bless you. prayers for your Grandmother.

  9. Katrina Says:

    This post is just breaking my heart! You are so right–all these wonderful people want is our time; how can we say no? It sounds like you are such a blessing, not only to your own grandmother, but to all the residents. It’s such a sad statement on our youth- and self-obsessed culture that we treat our elderly people so shabbily.

    Thanks for nudging people in the right direction with your words!

  10. Karen Funk Blocher Says:

    I’m still sitting here at the office, crying – for the woman whose visitor never came, for your and your grandmother and your uncle, and for my mom, who no longer needs my tears. 2001 and 2002 were hell for me, but worse for Mom. These entries of yours bring it all back. When she finally died, I mostly felt relief.

    Is there a way to get the insurance to cover taking your grandmother someplace at least marginally better? My mom was in a couple of different places, and one definitely seemed less awful and hopeless and neglectful than the other.

    Failing that, if you have the energy, I suggest raising hell, politely but firmly, as often as it takes, with people in a position to improve the situation. It’s not the nurses’ fault that patients are sick and neglected by family members. It is their fault if they don’t treat their patients with dignity and respect.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: