The past month has been a tough one for us. My gramma found out in early January that her cancer had come back. She had throat cancer about 10 years ago, had radiation to treat it, and had been fine ever since. For the last few months she had been getting severe stomach pain and some pain that was higher up by her ribs. One night it got so bad that she called my mom to take her in to the Emergency Room and after an MRI they told her that she had a tumor that they were pretty sure was cancerous.
The next 2 weeks were agonizingly slow as she would see a doctor, wait a week, have a test, wait a week, see another doctor, etc. While we were still in the waiting process to find out a definitive diagnoses, she ended up in the ER again because even with strong pain meds at home, she was still in lots of pain. She was admitted to the hospital so that they could give her I.V. pain meds until the final test could be done a few days later. Unfortunately, she never ended up leaving the hospital. While she was there they told her that she had cancer in multiple organs, including her colon, lungs, and bones, and it was not treatable. Within a few days, the lung cancer spread like crazy and she started having trouble breathing and needed to be on large amounts of oxygen, so she decided to just stay in the hospital and move to the hospice area once a room opened up.
In the beginning of her hospitalization she was still pretty alert and able to talk to us, she just got tired faster and slept more from all of the pain medicine. The first week or so, while they were still running tests and deciding how to proceed, my mom was with her to help her remember what the doctors had said and help her decide what she wanted to do. The second week, after we knew that things were progressing quickly, she was put on a continuous drip of pain meds to make sure that her pain was controlled. Either my mom or I were with her from then on, with other people staying and helping sometimes too. Two nights, about a week before she passed away, I was able to convince my mom to go home and get some rest, so I was alone with her. Those times were so special to me because we were able to talk a little bit, and I was able to tell her many times how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I also spent much of my time just holding her hand while she slept, just enjoying what I knew were my last days with her. The last 5 days or so, I was at the hospital all the time because it was important to me that I be there at the very end.
On My gramma has always been one of my favorite people in the whole world. Growing up we would go over there and have dinner with her and my grampa at least once a week and a lot of times I would end up spending the night over there. I was there so much that I had a bus stop at her house as well as my normal one at our house. We would play cards together, do puzzles, go shopping, and just hang out. She had a great relationship with Madison, and I am so glad that she got to know her great gramma. It was so hard trying to explain that great gramma was going to go away and she wouldn't see her anymore, but she is handling it well and seems to understand what is going on with a maturity well beyond her 3 years. She got to come to the hospital a couple of times to say goodbye, She is lucky to have lots of memories with her, and we have pictures and video to help her remember. I miss her almost daily calls to ask if I was watching Dr. Phil, or Oprah, or some Lifetime movie. I miss her inviting herself over and just showing up at our house unannounced. Most of all I miss just being able to talk to her and hug her.
I could not have survived all of this without so many people, especially Zach who had Madison almost all on his own for almost a week, and his parents who helped watch her when he couldn't. Knowing that she was taken care of so that I could be at the hospital was the most helpful thing they could have done for me. I also couldn't have gotten through it without my parents, my uncle, my cousins, and my faith. Knowing that she is in a better place where she can finally be with my grampa again (after 18 years apart), along with the support of my family and friends, gives me the peace and strength I need when the grief starts to feel like it is just to much.