So I start on this venture with a lot of ambivalence and a chunk of apprehension. For one, I know that at least one person knows this journal exists, and for that reason I doubt I'll ever be completely open in these pages. Who knows, maybe that will change one day and maybe this time I'll actually follow through and keep making entries.
So it's almost 3 am here in chicago and there's only three hours left before I need to be out the door so I can catch a shuttle and get to the airport. I'm flying back to jersey today, where I grew up and where my parents and most of my family still live. This trip home was unexpected and I only just purchased the tickets a few days before. My grandfather was admitted to the intensive care unit and then later to their hospice wing and it's a certainty that he only has a few days left. My mom wants me to see him one last time if I can before he dies. Really, if you think about it, my grandfather has been dying for quite some time now, though it's been a long and bumpy road to this point. He was diagnosed with alzheimers a couple years ago and has suffered at least one stroke in that period. Almost overnight he went from someone perfectly healthy with the exception of a bad leg to an invalid. His deterioration was unbelievably fast, ecspecially from my perspective. I only make it home once every 6 months or so and each time I saw him he had slipped further and further into dimentia. Almost from the start it became difficult for him to recognize family members, often requiring prompting and his physical problems paralleled his mental ones. He could no longer stand or walk without assistance and could not use the bathroom by himself. I guess the best part of this whole situation was that he didn't seem to be upset by his own condition. I've heard that outbursts of rage are common in alzheimer patients but luckily that seemed to have passed my grandfather by.
If the best part of this was that he was not distressed by his condition than the worst part was its effect on my grandmother. It's been difficult for her in the extreme to take care of him these past couple of years, even with the help of a live-in aid and family. She's always had a more depressive turn of mind and all of this has been feeding into those feelings. I try to call her at least a few times every week but it's difficult. My chinese is subpar and it's almost impossible for me to express what I'm trying to say at times. Hearing her make comments that her life as it is wasn't worth living and not having the vocabulary to offer comfort or make things better was uncomfortable in the extreme. Truthfully, I'm far more worried that my grandfather manages to linger on rather than if he passes away.
Since he's entered the intensive care unit he's only regained consciousness for short periods and has not eaten, drank, or spoken since. For a time they had him on iv fluids and inserted a feeding tube but those were removed a couple days ago. The doctors think his kidneys have pretty much shut down and it's down to the final days. Of my grandparents' three children the impression I get is that it's been hardest on my mom. Her two brothers, one older and one younger, seem to be taking it better, though my only impression of this has been second-hand through conversation with my sisters. I'm not looking forward to this trip back home. It reminds me of a horror filled trip I took when I was 12 or 13 to my paternal grandmother's funneral in taiwan.
Add to all of this my dad has been having problems with wildly fluxuating blood pressure and has been in and out of the hospital, a fist and knife fight between two of the kitchen staff at the family resturant that resulted in a trip to the emergency room and an arrest, and my own medical problems, it's hardly been a good time for the entire family. The only good piece of news to be had is that my youngest sister found a job at a pharmacy and is now making 40-something dollars a hour counting pills. If only I hadn't taken such a detour in my own life I might have wound up there too.
Oh well...still 2 hours and 45 minutes until I have to leave for the airport. I still have to pack and find something to do other than sleep. If I fall asleep now, I'll never get up again. It's a pity too since with all the pain meds I took, I'm actually without pain for the moment and could actually sleep if given the chance. Que sera, sera.