Friday, October 19, 2012

Panj - A Beginning and An End

My trip home continues to have it's ups and downs. While I'm definitely enjoying the freedom of being in the US, there's been a lot going on in my life.

My grandmother had went home after being sick in the hospital back in August. She had been back in the hospital twice since then. This second time she had been in the ICU for several weeks. I've been actively involved with what was going on with her, helping my mother and her siblings handle the issues they face and also in helping make the decisions.

It hasn't been easy for me as I still have very fond memories of this grandmother. I remember very well living with her, sleeping in her bed and being crazy together. I remember how she cared for her mother and I think over the years of being with her I gained a good understanding of her personality and her thoughts. She was no longer that person after several strokes took away her memory but she was still my grandmother and I loved her just the same.

My mom gets eerily quiet whenever we have to talk about her. My mom is the kind of person that takes everything inside and doesn't show much emotion under stress. Her younger sister was the primary person caring for granny and she's not doing well at all. As we sat in the last family meeting I had to mediate several times because all she could say was "I want you to save my momma" and the doctor would reply that he would do all that he could do but there was no guarantee she would ever be the woman we once knew.

Last week a couple of days went by where granny was not breathing on her own at all. To see her like that was traumatizing. It brought back the horror I felt at watching her mother take her last breath. That scars a child more deeply than you can imagine. It was also at that time I started thinking about why we do that in the US.

I know life support practices are aimed at keeping someone alive as long as possible but I'm not sure I believe in them. What are we really saving and at what cost to the person? I know there have been many times that life support has saved someone and I know the benefits for using it on coma patients or short-term. But my granny had been on life support for almost the full time she was in the hospital that last time. They couldn't even keep her stabilized.

I know that sounds grim but the reality is, she was suffering. I didn't want to see that. It's the family members who didn't want her to go. They are not ready. In many ways I feel that is selfish. I understand fighting for her but she had been in declining health for several years because of the strokes. The doctors had already told us all we can do for her cancer is to make her comfortable because she wouldn't survive treatment. They've given us 2 months at best. Last I heard cancer is not a pleasant disease.

So we had her in the hospital where she has been on a feeding and breathing tube for weeks. She couldn't sit up on her own, she was swollen to 3 times her normal size because her veins couldn't hold fluid very well. Her blood pressure kept dropping and they kept giving her more fluids to keep it up but even after all they were doing it barely reached 100/65.

She went several days laying in the bed looking like she had already passed. Her eyelids didn't move, one eye was open and one eye was closed and a machine was breathing for her. She was about to undergo more procedures when she passed away Sunday. What were we really putting her through just to keep her alive those 2 more weeks?

I don't know what to think. I don't know how to respond or react. Right now I've become sort of numb because I had no place to argue with her children. Some of them wouldn't understand because they have mental health issues. To top that off they got her to sign a form that says she wanted life support procedures for up to 60 days. (I am completely irritated by this one because my granny hadn't understood much of anything for about the last 5 or so years. I'm not sure she was competent to sign it.)

Anyway. My family needs me and if that's my job - to be the voice of reason and help them understand the doctors and what is going on when they are too emotional to do it, then so be it. I will continue to do my job.

In the midst of this crisis, there has been a new family member born. It wasn't without hardship as well. He was 4 1/2 weeks early but could breathe on his own. His mother had to have an emergency c-section and she panicked and couldn't manage the pain so they had to put her to sleep for the procedure. She's expected to recover just fine but it was a scary experience during an already strained time in the family.

Amid about 50 other personal drama's going on, I've managed to find time to both work and think. I think blogging is my therapy. I have been writing a lot here and on some of my other blogs as well. I've also been domesticating myself and readjusting to doing chores. That's something I wasn't allowed to do in India (I was not cut out to be a princess after all lol) so it has been a challenge. Laundry I think was the easiest to get used to again but doing dishes has been a challenge all my life. It's my most hated chore but if you like to eat and don't want to spend a fortune on paper then you must do it.

I am still seeing some things in the US with fresh eyes and gaining some valuable knowledge and insight into my own culture. I still am learning about myself as well. I think I'm starting to develop some of the qualities of an activist though I'm not certain if I can narrow it down to one cause.

I seem to have gotten into the habit of watching shows I can yell at. Yes, granny taught me to yell at the TV and you know what - I'm either psychic or they do listen to me sometimes. Lol. I know, not really. But I've been watching Maury and Jerry Springer and a few more in my free time. It's a good way to get out some aggression. I can yell at the TV and call those idiots names and even if it's not the most respectable thing to do, it's not an unhealthy release of anger or frustration. So for now, the shows stay. (I NEVER watched these shows before India.)

I've been exercising more as I wrote about a few days ago. That's going well and does help to relieve some of the stress I'm feeling over everything. I still miss my husband terribly but this time apart is drawing us closer together. The struggles I faced in India took a toll on our interactions with each other. I would say our marriage but I never felt like leaving and neither did he. That's why I love him, he's truly my match in life.

I've been so much happier overall lately. I've been cutting up with my friends, making jokes and laughing more than I did in India as well. Despite this trips challenges, I've seen a lot to be thankful for (saving all that for my Thanksgiving post). I've had so much to be happy about. This trip has been a bonding experience for me and several of my relatives. It's given me a fresh view of family.

I may come from a crazy bunch but I love them and in their own way they love me. At least some of them lol. I like being weird, crazy, kookie, etc. I love cracking jokes and picking with people. I'm more confident in my interactions and as such we've all had a lot of good times together. I hope this continues on. I will keep you update though I've noticed my monthly updates aren't coming monthly right now.