My Ama is my maternal grandmother, my only remaining grandparent. She lives with my parents and I and over the past couple of months has faced a rapid decline in physical health; yet her mind and other vital organs remain quite intact. It’s somewhat of a mystery but we know there are some contributing neurological issues.
Ama has always been the “independent woman”. She held a job for much of her life and always managed her home and accounts superbly. I first learned the art of being hospitable from her; as for many years- up until quite recently and before she moved in with us- she hosted lunch at her home with the family (Ampa – her late husband, 2 of her sisters, me, my parents and my sister and my father’s parents) every other Sunday. The food was always deliciously the same regardless of her having changed helpers one or two times in the interim. Her recipes were her recipes and she did everything with utmost precision.
Following the recent death of her sister, Aunt Norma, and before she was able to fully process the loss, Ama began experiencing symptoms of diverticulosis (which she knew she had but hadn’t until that point, exhibited any symptoms). This warranted a trip to the hospital. She began taking medication to treat the diverticulosis and not long after began to have tightness of chest primarily at night. After three nights of her having this difficulty on and off, I woke at 6 a.m. to find that Mom had taken her to the hospital as the “tightness” had proven to be more severe overnight. By this time, Mom had begun sleeping in the bed beside Ama’s bed; I gather they left the house around 2 a.m. This marked the beginning of the second installment of Ama having to visit and spend time at Andrews Memorial Hospital.
(The first was when she felt woozy, while living in her own home and we discovered her sodium levels fell causing weakness and slight incoherence. She spent some time in the hospital then and never recovered enough to make a smooth transition to living with us- we moved her in a hurry so her health could be better monitored.)
Upon making this second visit to the hospital and after a couple tests, the internist informed us she had had two minor heart attacks (which explained the tightness in her chest). She came home with about 3 medications added to her seemingly 6+ others (for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol) and has not yet fully recovered.
In the space of almost 3 months, Ama has gone from being able to help herself in and out of bed; fix tea; read books; watch and tape (yes, she still records tv content using a VCR) television shows; walk up and down the hallway- even taking on the staircase to make occasional trips to the hairdresser and bank with Mom- to being able to do none of the above on her own. Primarily because of seemingly sudden partial-paralysis in her lower body. She now has 24-hour care, eats pureed food (for the most part), has to be lifted when moving, has lost much of the sight in one eye, is incontinent and her hearing (which was greatly impaired before) has decreased tremendously. Its harder to watch tv, her books are too heavy, she is falling asleep often and has a nuisance of a sore which is further aggravated by long spells of sitting.
If only I had the keys to the treasure of “how she is feeling and thinking deep down” in this challenging stage of her life: Golden Key. Could I even manage to hear it all?
Stay tuned…in the next post related to Ama, I will share “in her own words”.