Friday, September 29, 2017

A Tender Visit with Grandma

About three weeks ago, my Grandma suffered a terrible stroke and brain bleed.  She had just been in New Hampshire with my parents gallivanting around Rattlesnake Mountain, canoeing, and just having a wonderful time.  Days after returning home she was found on the ground of her home having suffered a devastating stroke.  In the past three weeks I feel like my heart has had a roller coaster of emotions...thinking she was going to pass away, then bouncing back a bit, a move from the hospital to a care facility, and then this week an opportunity for Emily and I to go visit Grandma.

Shortly after Grandma's stroke I was able to facetime with Grandma.
 Just days before the stroke in New Hampshire:

My brother Matt was recently able to see Grandma for a bit on his way to a business trip.
Grandma and Matt at Heartstone Care Center
Emily and I were able to ride up with a friend to Seattle on Friday to visit with Grandma for the day.  What a special day it was for Emily and I to spend with Grandma!  

When we got to Heartstone we went up to Grandma's floor and she was waiting right at the front entrance.  We had called previously in the morning to let the staff know we were coming just in case it made a difference with therapy.  The staff was SO kind.  Although I have seen pictures of Grandma and "talked" with her via facetime it still made Emily and my hearts heavy a bit at first with how much Grandma has aged and reminds me of other elderly people that I visit in care homes.  Honestly, for the first bit I couldn't tell if Grandma knew who Emily or I were.  We had very little response to things we said.  We then wheeled her into her room so we could have some privacy.  Both Emily and I had printed off lots of pictures (and Judy had mailed some as well) so we started going through the photo albums and pointed at people and describing each picture.  At first it seemed like Grandma enjoyed this and then after probably ten minutes she started closing her eyes and zoning out.  So perhaps all the pictures were overwhelming?  Or maybe the experience was just causing her brain to dig too much?

We went and told the caregivers that she wanted to have a nap (Grandma nodded her head "yes" that she wanted a nap when she started to close her eyes).  The caregivers knew that we had brought supplies (it looked like we were moving in) to do a spa day and they encouraged us to continue on with our plans and not have her take a nap.  They said that once she is in bed she is there basically until they make her get up.  One of the medical assistants was particularly loving with Grandma and had given her a haircut the previous day and had even painted her toe nails.  Grandma needs her toenails clipped but the medical assistant explained that she is not licensed to clip toe nails.  I also decided to not clip them as it is hard to tell where the flesh starts and stops.  The assistant told me that she has put a request in to have her toe nails clipped. 

Once Emily and I started to physically give Grandma the extra attention (brushing her hair, putting in curls, hand massage, clipping finger nails, foot spa bath, foot rub. and face wash) she perked right up and didn't seem tired at all.  This makes me feel that the act of closing her eyes when we were showing her all the pictures was either a polite way of saying "you're boring me" or "this is too much for me" instead of "I'm tired."  
I've had a cough for a few weeks and wanted to make sure that I didn't pass along any germs so I wore a mask the whole time.

Foot massage

We brought lots of pictures to show Grandma and also read her her mail.

Grandma LOVED her foot spa bath!!  It was a treat to make her feel like a queen for the day.

The visit started out with Emily and I not being sure if she knew who we were and by the time we left I felt like she did know us.  At least I am positive she knew that we both love her.

We missed Grandma's initial expression when we showed her the mirror-- it was wonderful to see her with a smile.

By the end of the visit Grandma was reaching out with her good arm to my hair and caressing it.  While I have never felt Grandma was a particularly "physical" Grandma, I could tell she was telling me she loved me. When she could no longer tell me those words she was trying to show me.  I'll never forget it.

Such a special day for both Emily and myself!

1 comment:

MaryJane said...

What a beautiful post. I am so sad about your Grandma's stroke. I know how dear she is to you. So glad she had an excellent adventure with your folks. She has a wonderful famlily that loves her. She is blessed with that love.