Friday, June 24, 2011

204. Mis Abuelos

"I've been at the hospital with Abuela all day," my mom said on the other end of the line. I was on my way to meet my girlfriends for dinner, an I hadn't even thought to ask how my grandmother was doing. She'd fallen the week before and broken her shoulder.

"Oh, did you meet with the orthopedic surgeon?"

"No," Mom answered. "She woke up this morning and she couldn't swallow. Abuelo called me because she was acting really loopy. So we've been at the hospital all day."

Abuela had dementia, so "loopy" was something we were used to. Some days she was perfect—completely normal, smiling and talking and watching us kids goof off and laugh about nothing. And some days she wasn't herself. She'd ask if she could invite her sister over for dinner. Problem was, her sister had recently passed away, and even before that, she'd lived in Florida.

"So what did the doctors say?"

"Well, they're not too sure why she can't swallow. It could be that her dementia has gotten so bad that she doesn't remember how to swallow. But she's loopy because her sodium is low. Really low, so they're going to keep her overnight and slowly increase her sodium. Oh, I think that's to doctor calling. I'll call you back."

She didn't call me back. I didn't think anything of it.

Thirty minutes later I was standing at Zoe's Kitchen with Joyce when my phone rang. It was my younger sister, Meg.

"I'm supposed to call and tell you that Abuela is alive. They got her heart started again."

"WHAT? What are you talking about? Last I heard her sodium was low?" I wasn't understanding what she was saying. Of course Abuela was alive. Mom had just said things were OK.

"Oh, I thought you'd heard. After mom left the hospital, the doctor called her and told her to pull over. Then they told her that Abuela's heart had stopped. They'd been working on her for 15 minutes, trying to revive her. They were calling to ask if she'd sign a DNR."

My jaw dropped. My eyes bulged. I couldn't process anything she was saying. Her heart stopped? Her heart was fine. Abuelo was the one with the bad heart.

"What? Why did her heart stop?"

"I don't know. I don't know anything else. All I know is that her heart is beating again."

I'd watched enough Grey's Anatomy to know that this wasn't good. If her heart had stopped for that long, there was no oxygen going to her brain. I knew that meant serious brain damage.

"Mom will call you as soon as she knows more."

The man behind the counter looked at me cautiously.

"I'll have the egg salad sandwich with a side of fruit," I said, still in shock. "And this giant cookie."

Somehow I knew I was going to need a cookie.

I was grateful to be surrounded by my best friends that night. But there was one thing missing: Cayden. He'd been gone almost two months. I wanted to call him, but he'd gone to bed hours ago. I hated long distance. Hated it.

My girlfriends and I had a lot to catch up on. Rae and I had just started new jobs (yes, again), so that took up most of the discussions. Chaz got a job offer at Boston, so Rae filled us in on that. Carson had gotten in her first fight with Geoffrey and survived it. We had plenty to talk about.

Just as we finished up our meals, my phone rang. It was my mom. She was crying.

"It's not good. I don't know if she's going to come out of it. They're going to cool her body for 24 hours and then warm it for 24 hours and then run some test. But there's not any brain activity right now."

My heart sank as she sniffled into the phone. My dad was out of town on a business trip, and it was his mom.

"Dad's catching a flight back tomorrow morning and Uncle Rob is driving own from North Carolina tonight. He should get here tomorrow and then he and Dad will go tell Abuelo."

Abuelo. Poor Abuelo. He was losing Abuela and he didn't even now. They'd been married more than 50 years. He was losing his best friend.

Suddenly all I could think about was what it would be like to lose Cayden. I bursted out in tears at the table.



  1. oh Whitney...I'm so sorry. I hope everything is okay!

  2. i am so sorry to hear about your grandma :(

  3. I'm so sorry to hear that. I lost my grandma last year and it was very hard.

  4. I'm so sorry Whitney, about your grandma. :( I can empathize with your last line though, I sometimes picture how I would feel if I lost my Allen, and I basically go into spastic sobs too. Its the worst feeling imaginable, like your life is caving in on itself while the world is ending. I usually try to snap myself out of it pretty fast and thank God that he's healthy and that I get to spend another day with him. :)