Grandma has been in a rehab center after a recent stroke and heart attack (yep, both). Recently, the doctors found a bone infection in her foot. After checking with Mom every day, including this morning, everything seemed ok—until I got a phone call from my brother. It’s never good when people call during work hours.
He told me the doctor decided that Grandma’s foot needed to be amputated and it needed to happen now. Or did he say it was her leg? I was too upset to think straight. I felt like I was drowning in the flood of emotions that came over me—the feeling was much more powerful than the pain after the events that sent her to the hospital in the first place.
Thinking about Grandma, lying in a hospital bed with only an hour to process the fact that her foot would be removed brought me to tears (and at work, no less). I reminded myself that doctors don’t make these decisions lightly. Surely, whatever they thought needed to be done was in her best interest; she barely walks; she’s in a wheelchair; at least it’s just her foot and he infection hasn’t taken over more of her body. But none of these things make it easier—not for me, and certainly not for her.
It got me thinking about life, old age, pain, dying– all of the things that are a part of our existence that we don’t like to dwell upon. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, though. I’ve got a Nana and a Grandma (Dave’s) who are ok physically but not mentally, and a Grandma (mine) who is 100% “with it” mentally but in horrible physical condition. Is one of these better than the other? Both are miserable in their own way.
I want to do something. To fix something. What would make Grandma feel better? Should I fly home tonight?
My phone vibrated with my next text update: “Doc is going to clean infected tissue. If needs to be amputated, it will be below the knee and probably months from now”
And just like that, the knot in my stomach loosened up a bit. An hour later, the next text message notified me that the procedure went well and that she will get a prescription and head back to the rehab center. This turn of events happened as quickly as the news itself. And I got to finish the afternoon without that looming feeling. I even got to speak with Grandma on the phone to tell her not to worry us like that ever again. Will there be an amputation in the coming months? Who knows? But we know it won’t happen today and I will choose to focus on this fact.
I thought about the run I took last night, and how it hurt so badly that I had to stop. I thought about how, next time I run, I won’t stop for the pain; I will remember that each step is a gift. I will run for Grandma.