My Gran (cont)

Some time ago, I created a short post about my Gran – I’ve been up to see her a few times this year and it’s heartbreaking. The dementia has really got a hold. Her epilepsy is under control, though recently it’s been a roller-coaster of seizures and medication changes to control it properly. And, she’s in pain. A lot.

Despite these things, her eyes light up when she sees me and while my time with her is limited, she’s very responsive to memories, photos and discussions when I’m there.

For me, there’s a marked difference every time I see her. This time, we (mum and I) took her to a family Christening – and to our shock she didn’t even recognise her two sons. She got their names wrong. She’s struggling with many members of the family because she doesn’t see them enough to be able to maintain that path of memory.

Dementia is a terrible terrible thing.

I chose not to think of my Gran as she is today – small, frail and confused. I will remember her as the strong matriarch of the family. She was a strong woman – larger than life (so was my Grandad) – loved to eat, loved to cook, loved to care for others, had to be the first to bathe every new born baby, knitted ‘bonnets’ for everyone, instilled in everyone of us a sense of pride in who we were and she was fun. There was always a sparkle in her eyes. A little bit of mischief. And sometimes, a whole lot of mischief!

As a young child, I remember Gran being part of our lives on a regular basis. She and Granddad. I miss being able to play cribbage with her, or Scrabble – played to her and Granddad’s own set of rules – and I miss her energy.

Panic over

Despite Christmas not being the traditional affair I’m used to, it was lovely. I had lots of help to prepare the lunch and still I managed to forget the brussels and the little sausage things wrapped in bacon…hmmmm. Could that have anything to do with a subconscious mind working away? (I’m actually allergic to anything pork, and I don’t like brussels…though I do eat them).

Yesterday, we went out for a walk to Windsor Great Park. We didn’t walk particularly far, it was bitterly cold, but had a lovely wander through the park to the statue and back again, snapping away with the cameras as we did so. We even found a Starbucks that was open (on the way home) and enjoyed a very hot latte out of the bitter winds. The only part of the day that wasn’t so good was a text from Mum. She and Dad had driven to Yorkshire to see Gran – and when they got there, Gran said it had been so long that she thought they had died. OMG. Poor Gran.

She’s now been without a hearing aid for two-three weeks, which puts her in a bigger isolation than normal. It’s terrible. What part of ‘care home’ is caring? I’m beginning to wonder. I fought to get her a place there so she could be cared for while having the extended family around her, but the home fails to get her diet correct, fails to replace the hearing aid that broke recently, and fails in so many other ways. OK, so I’m being harsh, they are good in so many ways…Gran has medical support on hand 24-hrs a day for her seizures etc. and there’s special equipment to help her get showered, bathed even, and to make sure that she can be lifted easily if she falls. 

But, my Mum sent a text last night to say “I hate leaving her there”.

I can only agree.

A wild weekend

The weekend was emotionally draining. I saw my Gran for the first time since she moved into her new home. I drove up on the Saturday, picked up my cousin and then went straight to see Gran. She held me so tight. Her hug and obvious pleasure at seeing me were almost too much to bear. It’s been too long (Ican’t visit her if I’m ill though, I have to remind myself the nurses wouldn’t appreciate me turning up with an illness).

We bundled her up in her wheelchair and trotted out to the local coffee shop. She loved it. But, it wasn’t long before I saw first had just how confused she is now.

She forgot my name.

Though she knew me, who I am and was clearly delighted to see me, in one moment she couldn’t remember my name. In the next moment, she said it several times.

She talked of how terrible it is to feel useless. She told me how she doesn’t remember one moment to the next, and can’t really string a series of thoughts together and how her brain failing her frustrates her. She can’t even concentrate to do her ‘puzzles’ any more. 

During the course of this my darling Gran must have asked me a dozen times ‘When did you get here and when are you going home again’. 

Over the weekend, I got to spend a bit of time with Gran. I got to see just how she’s deteriorated. I got to see her frustration at her lack of ability and lack of coherent thought.

But, on Sunday at the Christening, she had several lucid moments. She wrote in the Christening book for the Baby. It was lovely. It reduced me and my cousins  C and J to tears – in an instant.

Saying goodbye to Gran was awful. My every instinct is to go and pick her up, take out of that place and bring her home to me. But, I know it’s not the best thing for her. She needs 24/7 care. I couldn’t cope on my own. So, while I was happy to see the nurses doing everything they should, an awfully large part of me felt guilty at leaving her there. Really guilty.

Today I hear that she’s been in bed all day. I feel guilty that perhaps we (though not just me) asked too much of her to go to both the Christening ceremony and then the lunch afterwards. I too feel I should be there to see her when wakes.