The Bryan Kids 2014

The Bryan Kids 2014

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hospice fired my grandfather...

   Just a couple of months ago, I rushed down to Pensacola.  My 92 y/o grandfather had fallen...again.  This time, the prospects looked grim.  The doctors were not encouraging.  In fact, I had to rush down to assist in the decision to turn him over to Hospice.  It was a sad day.  I could hardly believe the time had finally come. I had almost begun to believe this man was going to live forever.  Well, as a medical professional, I knew this day was coming, but this is one stubborn old man.  He has burned through at least 8 of his 9 lives, as one would expect of someone in their 90's.  Approximately 7 months ago, this cantankerous old man fell in the parking lot after bowling.  Yep, you read that correctly, he was out bowling with his buddies.  He fell in the parking lot, and he managed to break his neck.  C1 and C2, decent fracture.  The fact that he was alive and breathing, let alone walking since then is a minor miracle.  But this guy loves to prove doctors wrong.  In fact, I think he lives for it, forgive the pun.

    Shortly after surprising everyone, he was discharged from a rehab facility, back to his assisted living facility.  That week, he fell again.  He further fractured his neck that is now permanently in a neck brace to attempt to keep him alive.  The doctors recommended Hospice for palliative care.  He will never survive surgery to repair the injury, and most of his medical conditions are worsening.  He has congestive heart failure, history of a stroke, history of a heart attack, quadruple bypass, horrible lung fibrosis both from years of smoking and as a side effect of a cardiac med he was on for his A fib, and of course some kidney failure and diabetes.  Seriously, what wouldn't be failing after almost 93 years??

   He was admitted to a Hospice floor of a local hospital on 10 L of O2 via high flow nasal cannula.  I left my sweet babies with their father for the second time in the last few months, and headed down to spend some time with my Grandpa.  By the time I got there, my grandfather and the Hospice minister were looking up his island from WWII on Google Earth on an Ipad.  Ok, so this man is it.  I sat down to visit, and picked up a pretty little box on his bedside table.  Inside were sweet little notes from the staff with hospice related bible verses.  I set it back down without saying anything.  My grandfather pipes up with "Yeah, I have no idea what that is all about.  Isn't Hospice last rites kind of crap??  I am not ready to die."  I laughed even more as I reviewed his current meds with the nurse on shift.  His nursing diagnosis, Adult Failure to Thrive.  Even his nurse said "Well this is odd, my failure to thrive patients are usually not sitting up and arguing with me."  Yep, that is my grandpa.  I was grateful to be his family, not his care provider.  At some point, the nurse practitioner told me that I should take him by the shoulders, and let him know he is dying, and that it is OK to let go.  I laughed a little and said "I'm not so sure that he is, and maybe it is better if it takes him by surprise."

   Low and behold, he was released from the Hospice floor to a rehab facility, and then back to his assisted living facility.  Hospice continued to follow him, and visit weekly.  Some where along the line, his doctor finally broke the news to him that he was never returning to driving.  He had been fully convinced that he would be able to drive again once he recovered.  Of course, he hadn't driven in almost 2 years, but who is counting.  He called me, and informed me that Santa had come early.  He graciously offered me his car as a gift for my family.  So off I flew on Airtran on Monday morning on a one way flight to Pensacola for a short visit.

     I immediately went to visit my grandfather after a brief visit with my step uncle and his partner Rob.  These two are awesome. They handle everything for my grandfather, and they aren't even blood relations.  They take him to his appointments, handle his bills, and take him out for an occasional field trip.  They even host our family on our visits in town.  Upon my arrival at his little apartment, I can tell I am in for it.  He is in a mood.  This could be fun...For about 45 minutes, I let him yell at me and vent.  I didn't mind at all, in fact, I think it would be natural to be a little pissy and angry at this point in your life.  Our interaction went something like this

Me  "Hello Nant(affectionate name), how are you feeling today?"
Nant  "Well, not great.  This getting old thing is horrible.  I don't understand this whole thing of people taking things away from you before you die."
Me  "I don't have to take the car Nant.  If you aren't ready, I can leave it here.  No big deal at all."
Nant  "It isn't the car, it is the fact that I can't drive.  Why shouldn't I be able to drive until I die, and if it is what kills me, then so be it."
Me  "Well, we aren't actually worried about you, we are worried about everyone else on the road.  What if you killed someone else??"
Nant  "Well then, they were in my way, and it was their time also..."
Me  "Nant, I know you don't mean that..."
Nant  "Not really, but I know I could still drive.  I could pass that test."
Me  "You are in a neck brace and have to have oxygen constantly to stay conscious.  No one is going to let you have a license...I'm so sorry.  I know it is incredibly frustrating."
Nant  "Oh, and about this Hospice thing...I never approved this.  I don't need them.  They come by every week and bring crap like this(throws small handmade pillow and quilt in my general direction).  What am I supposed to do with this?/"
Me  "Some nice little old lady made this for you to make you feel better.  She was just trying to be helpful the only way she knew how."
Nant  "Well she could keep it...I mean, how is this supposed to make me feel better about dying.  Why do they feel the need to stop in every week to remind me that I am dying, and that they aren't going to do a damn thing about it.  I am 92, I have been well on my way to dying for a long time.  This is not news, and I see no need to remind me that you aren't going to stop it."
Me "(extreme laughter) Well, I guess you have a point.  I have never thought about it that way.  Do yo want to go out for some contraband ice cream?  It always makes me feel better."
Nant  "Yeah...that might be nice.  I am sorry for yelling at you.  I am not mad at you."
Me  "I know you aren't.  Sometimes you just need to say things out loud, and then you feel better."

   Needless to say, we had some wonderful ice cream, and a great visit.  I think I learned more about my grandfather and laughed more with him in that 24 hr trip than I have in along time.  Yesterday he called me to inform me that Hospice discharged him from their care...I am not surprised at all.  In fact, I am proud of him. I hope I can be as independent and feisty in my elder years as he is.  What a fantastic role model, even if he is quite a grumpy old man that sounds like Foghorn Leghorn.


  1. hhhhhmmmmmmmmm: DO NOT let Mike go spend any time with your grandpa! Once he realizes that this is your blood kin -- and acorns don't fall too far from the tree -- he'll just be discouraged for the next 50 years, thinking of what lies ahead of him!

    1. Sadly, he knows my grandpa well :) And I am pretty sure he figured out that I might be a bit difficult in my later years. I might be a little stubborn now...