Monday, July 08, 2013

Adventures in none of my business

The last weekend in June we visited Mr Renn's grandparents in Flaming Gorge.  At the end of the 3 going on 4 hour drive, we turned onto the dirt road subdivision and pulled up.  Renn saw the startlingly bereft state of the lawn and knew right away things were not going well.  His grandparents have owned the property for his entire life, and lived there for most of that time.  The yard was his grandpa's domain and in a tinkering fashion his pride and joy.  It was apparent he hadn't been able to devote one iota of himself to it in quite some time. The typically tidy lawn was nearly entirely dead, with weeds growing a foot or more high in the areas they'd managed enough water to take hold.  It was a rather ominous introduction to our weekend.

Sir O being trained in the ways of bleu cheese dressing. #sir_o #vscocam #afterlight #grandmagram

Renn's Grandpa had hardly left the house at all in quite a few months.  From what we can conjecture, he'd probably had a heart attack the weekend before we visited, and had another one two nights after we left.  He's been in a state of congestive heart failure for as long as I've known him, and has survived more heart attacks than I can shake a stick at. But he looked so much more consumed by it all than he had last year.  He was not sleeping at all and was requiring huge quantities of nitroglycerin to keep his blood vessels dilated enough to make the pain he was in bearable.  We didn't quite know any of this heading into the weekend. So instead of visiting the Dam or seeing sights, we ran errands to the pharmacy and picked up a new recliner for Renn's grandparents.  They live well over an hour from the nearest city. I think Renn's sweet grandmother has been pushing her self-sufficiency to its limit, trying to be the full-time always available nurse when her health isn't flawless either.


So there I stood, and as the daughter of a hospice guru, I felt like all of this pain and muddling through was not actually necessary.  I gather that several other people had tried to suggest hospice but had met a lot of stigma-based resistance.  I plowed right on by that and in one of the bossiest streaks of my life I researched available hospices (not many for such a remote location, but some!) chose one with Mr Renn and made him call them immediately.  I pushed a lot of people pretty far outside of their comfort zones to try to get him admitted as soon as possible, and when we left for home on Sunday afternoon I was under the impression that the hospice would be contacting them the next morning and everything would be appropriately expedited.


I was constantly bugging Mr Renn on Monday to see if he'd heard any updates, and finally made him call his grandmother that evening.  My heart dropped to realize they'd missed the call and nothing had proceeded that day.  Feeling mightily compelled I called the hospice myself that night and spent 45 minutes talking with the director about the particulars of their situation.  I finally felt like things were likely to be expedited and was able to sleep that night.
Adieu to the (great) grandparents. Wish we could come more often.
Unfortunately, that night was when the second heart attack hit, and despite his determination to never stay in a hospital again, pain rued the day and I woke up to find that Renn's grandparents were in the hospital in Vernal.  I spent the morning making another series of phone calls to make sure that the hospice and the hospital could work together to get things squared away.  It's all been very tricky for me, I feel responsible for this ball I tried to get rolling, but I also feel like it's none of my business since I am "just" the wife of a grandson.  There are lots (lots!) of people who are better suited to taking ownership of this.  It's just that I was there at the moment and did what I felt compelled to do, and feel the need to see it through.

The entire ordeal did consume most of my emotional energy this past week, and every day I've been constantly asking Mr Renn if he's gotten any more updates.  His nonchalance is never so irritating as when I am more anxious than him about something he ought to be more anxious than me about.  But since nonchalance is one of his crowning characteristics and anxiety is one of mine, it's an inevitable irritation.

I'm hoping with baited breath that hospice can be the miracle for them that I've heard so many stories of it being for other people.  That Mr Renn's grandpa can be made comfortable and that his grandma's burden can be lightened.  If not I'll feel personally responsible for the failure, despite my non-culpability.  I don't know when I've been so anxious for positive feedback about someone else's performance.

An interesting week, all told.  I'm hoping for less drama in the next one.
Renn thinks I'm crazy is always right when he thinks that, isn't he?

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