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Death & Dying Message Board

Death & Dying Board Index

My grandmother is dying, and we can't get any answers. She started going downhill a few months ago, but we attributed it to normal old age problems (she's nearly 84) and the fact that she was grieving over her closest sister dying.

In just the last six weeks, though, she has made a drastic turn for the worse. She was hospitalized about a month ago with chest pains, but it was caused by low potassium. They got her potassium up to normal numbers and sent her home. She would have good days and bad days. Then, one day last week, she was going to the bathroom and just froze. She couldn't go any farther and had to yell for my aunt who is her caregiver. My aunt took her to the doctor who basically dismissed her and sent her home. Granny continued to get worse all that day and by the next morning, my family decided to call an ambulance. By the time she got to the hospital, she was so dehydrated that her systems were starting to shut down. They managed to get her rehydrated and ran many tests. We thought she had had a stroke, but her CT scan didn't show it. Her potassium, magnesium and sodium were very, very low. They got the numbers up and sent her home again.

Since then, she can barely talk, she can't get herself to the bathroom, she can't feed herself, she shakes all the time. It's awful to witness this. I feel like screaming when I leave her house. Her mind is still intact, because she can write us notes to let us know what she wants. All I can think about is how humiliating it must be for her to have to have help to go to the bathroom, to have help washing, to have someone feed her.

Granny has always been the strongest person I've ever know, also the most stubborn. She has made it through so many things that would have caused others to bend under the weight and strain of it. She has been the one person in my life who always believed in me, and I know I would not be where I am today without her. She was, in a lot of ways, not only my grandmother, but also my best friend.

So many things make me mad about the whole situation. We have no answers. We don't know what has happened to her. It was just almost out of the blue that this all happened. No one should have to go like this. It's just so unfair. Death and dying shouldn't have to be so humiliating.

When I talk about it to people, I hear things like, "Oh, she's 84. She's lived a good long life." And, I know she has. But, I also know she could live much longer and in much better shape. Our family has a history of longevity. A few days after Granny came home from the hospital, her sister died. Her sister was 97. None of Granny's siblings, except for one who died of cancer, has died before the age of 90. And, there were seven of them. Granny is now the only one left of her siblings.

Some days I just want to scream. My daughter, who is almost three, and I go over there every day. My aunt needs help, and we are all (all of my granny's children and grandchildren) are doing as much as we can. I try not to cry in front of my daughter because it upsets her. She is upset enough about granny being sick. She asks me every day if Granny is better. How can I tell her that granny probably isn't going to get better?

I haven't given up hope that she'll get better, but others in my family have, which makes me mad, too. How can they give up on her? She tells us she wants to get better, but how can we help her get better if we don't know what's wrong? Is anger part of the grieving process?

I've lost other people in my life to death, but it came very suddenly. I didn't have to watch them suffer. I'm watching Granny suffer every day, and while I wish she wasn't in pain anymore, I don't want her to go. And, I feel so guilty for feeling that way.

I'm sorry this has turned into a book, but I started writing and couldn't stop.

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