May 23, 2015 is a date I refer to as the date that will live in infamy for our tiny two-lady family. We spent the day visiting the cemeteries where our loved ones are buried as we have done every year on Memorial day for as long as I can remember. It was only the second time I had ever driven Grandma around to the cemeteries. The photo on the left is our very first selfie, forever commemorating this day.
We stopped at my mom’s house on the way back to the burbs to use the bathroom. My grandma fell in the bathroom, grabbing onto the towel bar (which was not stationary), falling backwards over the bathtub. At first, we thought she was fine and her back was just hurt a little. Three days later, she drove herself to the ER and they sent her away with some pain killers.
Early on the morning of June 2, Grandma called me and said she needed to go to the hospital and just couldn’t take it anymore. On June 2, she was admitted to Centerpoint for a T11 Vertebrae fracture. She was supposed to be discharged the following Monday. On Saturday, June 7, I received a call from another loved one’s caregiver, saying he was being admitted to the hospital! I left to make sure he was okay. When I came back, all of a sudden my grandma was very sick. They discovered that she had diverticulitis and was going to need a colostomy (her second one!). When she was about to be discharged from that (after another week), they found she had a blood clot in her left arm from the PICC line they were using.
She spent a total of three weeks in Centerpoint. By the time she was embarking on the third week there, I had to go back to work. I was not able to stay there 24/7 and talk to the professionals and advocate for my Grandma and keep my job. The social worker dumped her in the Rehab Center of Independence. She was for there for three months. During that time, I took on helping her manage her finances and pay her bills (discovering I probably should have intervened much sooner).
Then she was home for another month. And then she fell again. I begged and begged and begged the hospital, don’t send her back there! We had to negotiate with the case worker and the other nursing facilities because she only had exactly 14 SNF days left. This time, she was properly rehabilitated and she went home.
At the end of January 2016, Grandma fell again. She went to the hospital for two broken toes. They released her two days later. The following day, she went septic and we had to call the ambulance and go straight back to the hospital. Turns out her gall bladder was four times the normal size (I can show you a picture if you want). She had to go to an SNF for a few days for rehab, but she came back home. But God, she hasn’t returned to the hospital since, and we have avoided any major health events since.
I should add that my grandma only remembers about 5% of this.
My life is much different now than I would have ever dreamed before I took on this role. Now, my life revolves around staying employed while maintaining my caregiving responsibilities.
Through all of these changes and experiences, I have learned a lot and I want to share it with you. I hope you will join me as I continue on my adventures in taking care of my grandma and we can learn something from each other along the way.