If I have any regular followers on here, I apologize for my sudden absence. I realize it’s been over two weeks since I’ve posted anything; indeed I had to actually pull up my own blog to even remember what my last post was about. My life has just been a whirlwind these past few weeks between general insanity at work (including doing some overtime) & my grandfather being sick.
To elaborate on the last point, I rarely post such personal things on here, but my grandfather had a bad fall about a month ago & spent several weeks recovering in UVA hospital. He was finally released to rehab only to now end up back in another hospital with aspiration pneumonia. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that his memory has been slowly worsening, but ever since the fall in addition to his injuries & subsequent surgeries, he’s had a lot of confusion & restlessness. As a nurse, of course I know this isn’t uncommon in someone his age who’s been hospitalized, especially after such a traumatic fall. But nonetheless I can’t shake this horrible feeling that he’s never going to recover to his baseline. Statistically speaking, the odds really are against him, as I well know from the many similar patients I’ve cared for over the past few years.
This is one blog post I kind of hope my family doesn’t see because I don’t want them to be disheartened. I really don’t want them to know how negative I feel about this whole situation. But at the same time I feel like I really need to express the sadness I’m experiencing right now. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but I am terrible at expressing emotions around my family, at least so-called “negative” emotions, that is. For example, it’s very rare that I cry in front of anyone other than my husband. I just hate for even my own family to see me being “weak.” I know that’s ridiculous & totally unhealthy, but it’s just the way things have always been for me. At times like these, I realize how much harder that makes things because in the end I’m just bottling things up which is never, ever a good idea. So that’s why I’m writing all of this, in an attempt to be more honest about how I feel & not just try to put on a brave face for everyone. In the end I don’t think putting on a brave face helps anyone. It’s better to just be honest & say how we really feel.
I guess since my grandparents on my mom’s side are so much younger than my dad’s parents were I’ve always taken it for granted that I’d have them around for a really long time. I never really doubted that they’d be around to see me graduate from college, get married, & have kids someday. As it turns out they’ve seen the first two of those things & for that I’m eternally grateful. But I just keep having this horrible thought that even I if I got pregnant tomorrow (which is not going to happen, just to be clear) my grandfather might not live to see that child. Or even if he does he might not have the mental capacity to really understand & appreciate the experience. And my future children might not have the blessing of getting to really know him as the man he really is. And that breaks my heart.
Of course it’s possible that I’m being fatalistic & overly negative here. But the fact of the matter is that as a nurse I see a lot of similar cases & I can’t deny that the endings often aren’t pretty. One of the first things I learned as a nurse is that merely surviving isn’t enough. Quality of life is everything. I know my grandfather would never want to live the rest of his life in a nursing home, so even though he’s made a lot of progress, for which I am very grateful, I still fear that he’ll never make it back to his baseline & thus his quality of life will suffer greatly. I really do hate to sound negative, but I’m speaking from experience here . . .
The truth is I’ve never seen the point in being overly positive or overly negative in life; I just strive to be realistic. I learned a long time ago that sometimes it’s best to have low expectations for the things in life which you can’t control . . . I find this prevents a lot of disappointment & quite often leads to unexpected happy surprises. Maybe some people would say that’s a negative way to live, but it works for me.
As I finish this the same way I started it, with tears in my eyes, I guess the best I can do is prepare for the worst & hope for the best . . .
PawPaw, I love you so much. Every time you hug me I can see in your eyes how much you love me & how proud you are of me. I’ll never be able to say how much that means to me. I want you to recover & get back home to the life you knew before all of this. But if that isn’t possible & your quality of life is such that you don’t feel you can take it anymore, I want you to know that we love you enough to let you go. Please don’t hang around being miserable just for us. More than anything I don’t want you to suffer. I love you.
In conclusion (for real this time), I’ll end with a few Pema Chodron quotes because her words always bring me a sense of peace & calming, no matter the situation at hand.
“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit & not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together & they fall apart. Then they come together again & fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”