It hurts when I don't sleep. That's why I'm blogging at 3:13 in the morning. I can't sleep, but tossing and turning in my cold bedroom is miserable, so here I am.
I'm tired. And honestly, I'm tired in a way that sleep wouldn't help anyway. My brain is tired. My heart is tired. I really wish there were a way to just shut those organs off for a bit, but there isn't.
Spent two and a half hours at the hospital today feeding my grandmother. She's barely eating and at this point doesn't have the strength, dexterity, or vision to feed herself. Of course, after getting less than 25% of her food down, she had her fourth bout of diarrhea for the day. They're giving her medication to lower her potassium level, which is commonly high in dialysis patients, and that medication works by giving her the runs.
When I was a child living with Nana, I wasn't particularly aware of her age--not only was she a pretty vibrant woman then, but it just didn't occur to me that she was old, even compared to most of my friends' grandparents. But she was older--she had my mother three weeks before her 42nd birthday.
After I moved to California to live with my mother when I was 10, I'd go back to Chicago every summer and winter break, and usually Thanksgiving as well. I slept in the same bed as my grandmother as I had when I was younger, but now I would find myself awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, watching her chest in the dark bedroom to make sure it rose and fell, terrified that she wasn't breathing.
I'm not sure what caused that anxiety, but it continued for years.
While I was in college, a therapist told me that anxiety was called premature grieving.
I vaguely remember telling my grandmother when I was five years old that I wanted her to live to be 100. Though I remember it vaguely, she remembers it very, very well. Over the last two months, she's relayed the story to everyone on the 4th floor nursing staff at Alta Bates and the 5th floor nursing staff of Herrick, the rehabilitation center she was at after the amputation.
Friday, when I called 911 because my grandmother was too weak to sit up in bed to take her meds or even roll over, much less eat breakfast and get ready to go to hemodialysis, I wondered it this was going to be the day. She lay there apologizing and crying, in pain, and there was nothing I could do. Later, sitting next to her in the ER while she slept, I watched her chest, hoping it would stop rising and falling, hoping she'd keep sleeping, not wake up in pain, not wake up to a missing limb, not wake up some tiny fraction of the woman she was just two years ago.
And I don't feel guilty about that at all.
What do I feel guilty about?
Telling her, when I was five, that I wanted her to live to be 100. Because she's only 97 and doesn't want to let me down.