I had a post planned, but yesterday I found out that my grandmother had had a heart attack and needed a double bypass, so I guess lost my drive to do it. The surgery went well, but as of now she still hasn't woken up (after more than 24 hours) and is listed as being in critical condition. So tomorrow my mom and I will be driving to a town in Southern New Mexico (almost Texas) to be with her and the rest of my mom's family. While this is definitely weighing very heavily on my mind, there's something that I keep thinking of even more. And as horrible as I feel about how much I've been thinking about it and how selfish it is, I just can't get it to go away.
We'll be at the hospital most of the day, probably until my grandma is sent home. The thought of spending any significant amount of time in hospitals makes me want to cry and scream and kick. My family and I are no stranger to hospitals. A good portion of my childhood was spent in various hospitals, and though I was never a patient, my sister Laureana had been on and off since she was 11 (I was 9).
One day she just woke up sick and didn't get better. She slowly lost her ability to walk, talk, and eat on her own. Eventually she lost all of these abilities completely. She was taken to doctor after doctor and no one could figure out what was wrong with her. Eventually though, a diagnosis was found at UCLA hospital- it was a one of a kind illness that had been triggered by the West Nile Virus. For quite some time, no one knew how to treat her, but even once they had found a way, there was still a very long way to go. During this time, sometimes my brother (who was 13 or 14 at the time) and I would have to stay home by ourselves so we wouldn't miss too much school (our grandparents live about two minutes away, so we were always safe and had everything we needed, but we essentially had to be adults at a time in our lives when both of us, but especially I was still extremely attached to and needed our parents very much) or my brother, parents, and I would spend days, weeks, sometimes even months in hospitals with Laureana.
At one point, she gained back the abilities she had lost. For one year, she was able to walk and talk- shakily at first, and she still had to have part of her nutrition though a feeding tube, but for the time that it lasted, it was miraculous. Then she relapsed. And back to the hospitals we went.
Her illness changed in many ways over the next few years. I remember there was a time when something went wrong with her feeding tubes that made her scream like she was possessed and scratch and fight when we fed her because it hurt her so much, but we had no other option because she couldn't take her food by mouth. At one point she weighed something like 60 pounds because of it. I remember when we had to build a ramp onto our house so her wheelchair could get up. I remember a laminated piece of paper with the alphabet printed on it that she used to talk. I remember the terrible eating disorder she developed toward the end of her illness. I remember her starting to eat again. I remember taking her into the fields and trees of our ranch to take her Senior pictures and helping her stand on her own (with the help of a tree)- and it being the first time she had done so in years. I remember a second and third set of first words. I remember the OCD about cleanliness and healthiness she developed and how it faded into her kooky sort of health nuttiness she has now. I remember seeing my sister make an unbelievable change into the person who she is today. The person you would never guess in a million years had ever had more than a cold in her life. She has been healthy for about a year now.
But as selfish as it is, I remember basketball games I couldn't go to because my parents were in the hospital with my sister and there was no one to take me. I remember everything happening in "hospital time"-we hardly ever left until hours after my parents had told me. I remember feeling distanced from my friends because I was always missing school. I remember being bored and lonely. I remember crying. I remember staying in at least five Ronald McDonald houses and being cooped up in hotel rooms. I remember spending at least one of almost every holiday in a hospital- Chistmas, Easter, Valentines Day...you name it. And though I know that I have gone through nothing compared with my sister, my family, and many, many other people in the world, I can't help but think of the bad experiences whenever I know I have to spend time in a hospital. I know that my family needs me and that to go is the right thing to do, but it's extremely hard for me to handle. I do feel like just writing this down has helped, though. It's at least calmed me down from the mini meltdown I was having.
I know that sharing this here rather than with people who I actually really know might seem silly...but I don't really feel like there's anyone who I can actually talk to about this at the moment. I just sort of feel that I needed to explain how I feel to people completely unconnected with the situation. Don't ask me why. So thank you so much to anyone who read this. And please send good thoughts my Grandma's way- she's the one who matters right now. After having written this, I feel like I'll be able to concentrate more on that.
(I guess when they say to write a letter to get your feelings out, they knew what they were talking about.)