Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Driving around in my automobile...or something like that

These are pictures of the car I drive to occupational therapy school everyday. I'm posting it because it's really quite...amusing. This illustrates the life of a graduate student perfectly.

I don't have a car. I sold my last car to pay for school. My dad is loaning me this car until he decides he wants to (fix it and) sell it. The car do you say

First, if you can tell from the picture, the hood is black and the rest of the car is bluish green. A very faded bluish green, but, that's a minor detail :-)

The pipe leading to the muffler has not one, but TWO, holes in it so the muffler is SUPER LOUD. Once when I went to visit my mother she opened the door for me before I rang the bell. She says: Do you know how I knew it was you? I heard you waaaaay down the street. (Naturally, she could hardly get this out because she was laughing so hard) Sometimes I like to pretend I'm driving in Nascar or the Indy 500. Sometimes I'm actually convinced my name is Jeff Gordon.

I think only two of the wheels have hubcabs. It might drop down to one real soon. You just never know...

I always pray no one drives in the blind spot on my right side. It's hard to see other cars when there is no right side mirror. I'm very adept at looking over my right shoulder now. I'd like to say I'm an expert.

If I ever get pulled over by the cops there may be a huge problem. He'll ask for my license and insurance and I'll have to give it to him through the passenger side window because the driver side window does not roll down more than a half inch. It also does not roll up completely either. So the window is always open about 1/2 inch. Yes, in the summer this sucks. Yes, in the winter this sucks. Yes, when it's raining this sucks. Yes, when it's snowing...well, you get the idea.

Most cars start in first gear when you push the gas pedal from the brake. But this car is oh so special! It starts in second or third gear, so you have to really push the gas pedal to get about 3-4 feet of movement. This takes about 10-15 seconds longer than most cars so people almost always honk at me at a stoplight. I'm strongly considering cutting out the platform and fueling the car with my feet. Yes, just like the Flintstones. It will work, I know it!

The stalling engine is even more pronounced when someone else is in the car. My friend and I went to a party and because we live near each other he wanted me to drive. He is 6 feet tall 200 pounds, solid muscle. It took us 2 minutes to get from one stoplight to the next because take-off was so slow. The 15-minute trip to the party took 45 minutes. After the party (and a few drinks), as we're driving home, he said: C'mon, I'll get out and race you home. I bet I win.

And, to top it all off, the car has a car alarm complete with remote. So now I can be super cool as I press the button and hear that well-known 'boop boop boop' car alarm sound. But of course, it's not just any alarm. It's the LOUDEST car alarm on all of Earth. As my running friend so eloquently stated, "This little sh*t car has an alarm?"

My glass is half FULL.
My glass is half FULL.
My glass is half FULL.
My glass is half FULL.
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

October is HEALTH LITERACY month!!

I know I'm late in reporting this but better late than never! :-)

So, what is Health Literacy anyway and what's it's relationship to Occupational Therapy?

Glad you asked!! First, a website for reference--

Second, a definition: long story short, Health Literacy is understanding health information.

How many times have you or a loved one been to the doctor and received instructions and medicine, only to go home and find out that you have no idea what to do with the medicine or you don't remember or understand any of the terms the doctor said to you? Did the doctor say take the blue pill in the morning or in the evening? Was it with a meal or before a meal? Was it biweekly as in 2x a week or 2x a month? Did she say stop taking this medicine when symptoms stop or after I've taken all the pills in the bottle? Can I take this on an empty stomach?

AAAUUUGGHHHH!!! This happens ALL the time and it's time it stops NOW!

With so much information available to us and with recognizing how important our health is there's no reason why anyone should leave a health care facility and not understand what's going on with their OWN health.

A bigger problem that frustrates me is that many people can't read. Yes, you read that right (thank God YOU can read). Millions of respectable people with good jobs and loving families CAN'T READ. They listen to their health care professional use large, industry-specific words like neutrophils and greater tubercle of the humerus and vertebrae and potassium chloride and heart striations and they are CONFUSED.

They can't fill out their medical paperwork and they somehow fake it through. Instead of asking their health care professional questions for clarification they nod their head, take their medications and/or instructions and go home and try to work it all out.

We watched a video of this in class of ARTICULATE, good-looking people who couldn't read and were confused. They went home and damaged their health further!!! The reading level of the average American is 8th grade level. WHAT???!!!

Also, health care pros COME ON!!! You know average people don't know words like scapula, flexion, phalanges, macrophages, humoral response, and so on. WHY WOULD YOU SPEAK TO SOMEONE THIS WAY??? You add to the problem and make it worse.

As health care professionals we need to be cognizant of our client's literacy levels and make the effort to ensure they understand. This includes asking them to repeat instructions back to us, demonstrating actions to them, using SIMPLE language, asking them to demonstrate what we've explained to them, and speaking slowly.

Clients! I encourage you to ASK your health care professional questions. If they are unwilling to answer you FIND A NEW HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL. Your health is not worth their impatience or stupidity now is it????

I mean really, how many chances do you have to get your health in order???

(btw, I'm not shouting with all the caps, exclamation & question marks and bold letters. I'm just excited!!!!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nerd-girl, how did you get so smart? I study!

About 4 weeks ago a doctor made this comment to me:

"Graduate school will be the most inspiring and educational time of your life."

I asked him why he thought this was so and he went on to explain that:

"You will never be surrounded by so many like-minded people who are just as interested and dedicated as you to learning, asking questions and overall curiosity."

I'm finding this to be very true. I'm surrounded by people that, for the most part, are very good reflections of myself. Sometimes my classmates say things and I'm like, "Wow, they are SO in my head right now." They do some of the same weird and quirky things that I do, although none of them are quite as weird and quirky as me.

The things that we laugh about are a bit nerdy, and no one else would find them funny or understand them. We ask a lot of the same questions about the things we're learning and about things we're not learning in our classes. We're in curious mode right now. We're all so interested in just EVERYTHING. We all want to research and learn and ask questions. I don't find this kind of curiosity amidst the general public.

To be honest, I'm often teased because I enjoy learning so much; I research EVERYTHING. My friend made a song about me called 'Nerd-girl.' It has a chorus and lyrics and everything:

Nerd-girl, Nerd-girl
How did you get so smart?
Because I study!

(Isn't that too funny?! He sings it to me all the time. I just crack up laughing)

The Internet is my best friend. I love looking up answers to my questions on the Internet. When I was financially strapped about a year ago, I disconnected my cable and did not watch television for over a year. I survived on only the Internet. To this day, I'm not much of a TV-watcher. If I get bored at home on a snowy or rainy day I hop on the Internet or read a book. It's very relaxing.

Last Saturday my sister asked me a question about Folic Acid and I didn't know the answer. About 10 minutes later she came back to where I was and, naturally, I was on the computer looking it up:

Sister: Are you looking up the question I just asked you?
Me: Yup.
Sister: (sarcastically) How did I know you were going to do that? I just knew would you have to look up the answer...

Anyway, the doctor was right about this being the best time of my life. I have very little money, no job (well, I have a part-time job) and no car, but I have loads of time to LEARN and I enjoy learning so much. I'm in a low pressure environment with positive, forward-thinking, inquisitive people. I'm so grateful for this time to really focus on what I'm learning. Last year, I worked full-time and went to school full-time to fulfill my prerequisites for this program and that was very tiring. Now that I have the time to just focus on school it's so enjoyable! And I can appreciate it all the more.

I enjoy all of my classes so much because I'm learning something incredibly interesting EVERY DAY. How many people can say that?!

The confidence of a 3-year old!

Outside of 'Congratulations you have been accepted to our Master of Occupational Therapy program' and 'Congratulations you are the 2009 recipient of two grad school scholarships' the following is quite possibly the absolute BEST and MOST INSPIRING thing I've heard all year. It's a Facebook post one of my FB friends posted earlier today about an INCREDIBLE comment by her son:

Facebook friend: I asked Ian what his preschool teachers thought of him, and his response was "They think I am fantastic...they just haven't said it yet..."

Isn't this the most AMAZING thing EVER???? This is a PRE-SCHOOLER saying this! I'm so impressed by this confidence from such a small person. I'm going to have to adopt this train of thought into my daily mantra.

Out of the mouths of babes...Wow...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The spinal cord is the size of my pinky...

The dissection of our cadaver is coming along quite nicely. I know I say this a lot but WOW. The body is just amazing.

We dissected the spinal cord a few weeks ago. I'm still speechless over that. We took one of those hand-held saw's like you see on TV (the most recent episode of HOUSE used one...if you need a picture reference) in the autopsy room. We literally cut through the spine of both our cadavers! The smell was atrocious but the sight of it was incredible.

We performed a laminectomy on both cadavers. We cut a rectangular box from the spine and pulled it out! No joke! Then we examined the spinal cord and cut it out a piece of it for further review.

It's much smaller than I expected. But after collaboration with my classmates I realized it's just the right size. The vertebrae we view in class always have small holes so the spinal cord can't be THAT large.

It's about the size of a large pinky finger, maybe that of a woman with large hands, like myself. It's the consistency of squid or octopus, very spongy-like. When you pick it up and see how small and fragile it is you can't help but think, "Wow, electrical and chemical impulses travel from my brain to this small thing???" This super small thing is so important.

Everyday I'm amazed at the complexity and organization of it all. The body is so wonderful that man has not yet figured out how to replicate it. Isn't that amazing?

How did God create such an incredible machine?

On OTs, God & Mom's love...

My OT peers are pretty amazing people.

I knew one of the girls had a special needs child but today I just found out that 2 others also have special needs children. This is partly what inspired them to pursue OT.

One young lady commented about how hurt she was when her daughter finished her long-term therapy because the therapy office was the only place where she and her daughter felt they 'belonged.' She would go weekly and talk with other parents about life and the ups and downs of having a special needs child.

I didn't know there was so much effort and time that goes into caring for these children. I mean, I knew there was effort and time, but I guess I hadn't thought much about how much effort and time. You have to take the child to and from therapy sessions and work with the child on therapy at home. And if they have Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, doctor appoints and whatever else they may have. It can be overwhelming driving to and from these appointments. And what if you have other kids?! How do you know if you're providing them with all the love and attention they need? Having one special needs child can be a full-time job in itself, as one of my classmates pointed out (she said she didn't work and she can't imagine how people work and take care of a special needs child). It's a lot of pressure on a family.

I was also intrigued by a comment one of the women was something about how 75% of marriages with special needs children end in divorce. 75 percent! That's amazing to me. A comment was also made about how it's normally men that can't take the pressure.

As biased as my next comment will sound, I can see how men can't take the pressure. If you think about it, a mother has a bond with her child from conception. That's the very, VERY beginning. This is when the kid is just a speck, a speck so small you can't even see it. Mom loves it, cares for it, talks to it, feeds it, provides for it...she does EVERYTHING. The father may support and take care of the mother but his bond really starts when the baby is born...then he is really able to love it, care for it, talk to it, feed it provide for it and so on. Think about Mom's love compared to Dad's love. It's different. It's usually more nurturing. Think about all the Mom's who have kids that do terrible things, like steal, murder and rape. Mom's always love their kids. They're always there. Think about all the celebrities and sports players. What's the first thing they say when interviewed: "I just want to say hi to Mom," "I love you Mom," "I just want to thank my Mom," and so on. It's always about Mom.

Think about the Mom's of the two men that killed all those people in those terrible Brown's Chicken murders in Palatine, IL. I was watching the news and the mother of one of the killers was heartbroken, for both herself and the families of the victims. The jury did not rule for the death penalty for the killer and his Mom commented about how grateful she was for this decision. I thought to myself, 'My God...with all the hatred the community feels for these two men we forget that they have Moms that love matter what they've done.'

If you're Christian, as I am, isn't this how God's love is? matter what you've done?

Unconditional is pretty darn amazing...Interesting, isn't it? Definitely something to think about...

Interesting funeral comments

A conversation after the funeral:

Me: Man, that was one looong funeral.

Sister: Yeah, it was too long.

Me: When I die, just post a photo of me and keep the entire service under one hour. Short and sweet.

Sister: Ok, I'll be sure to remember that.

Me: Wait a sec, how do you know I'm gonna die first?


As we're driving through the cemetery to bury my grandmother:

Sister: Wow, this cemetery sure is empty...there's so much land...where are all the tombstones?

Me: Yeah, it is pretty empty. I guess the economy is slow for the funeral homes too. People just aren't dying fast enough...

Friday, October 9, 2009

When I have kids, will I drive a bus, too?

My Grandmother's funeral is tomorrow.


I hate funerals.

Yes, especially those of family members. I'm still going of course, because it's the right thing to do but I'm REALLY dreading it. REALLY dreading it.

Funerals are so sad. And viewing the body is so morbid to me. I told my mother I was NOT viewing the body. I want to remember Grandma as she was. Most older, civilized nations of the world wrap the body and bury it immediately. There is no 'viewing' of the body. It's a gross practice. I told my family to never do that for me. Just post a (flattering) picture of me and place me in the casket.

This is the Circle of Life Mufasa talked about in the Disney movie The Lion King. Despite how sad these events are they must happen.

But, as I stated a few blogs ago, my Grandmother really loved her children, as most mothers do. It's the way it should be. Good parents produce productive children who have meaningful contributions to society.

A mother's love for her children is indescribable and immeasurable and I'm looking forward to experiencing this for myself. One of my classmates told me she drove a bus (yes, a bus!) when her children reached school age just so she could be home when they were home, have summers off and tote them around with her when necessary. That's incredible to me! My other classmate told me her mother worked in her school's cafeteria just so she could be closer to them and make sure they were okay.

I have another friend who fibs and tells her family 'the doctor said do it' just so she can feed her child wholesome breast milk and whole, organic foods without the criticism of the family. If she did not say it was the doctor's orders the family would feed the baby high fructose corn syrup, cow's milk, artificial milk, and processed and microwavable foods, which both she and I agree are huge no-no's. But she does it to protect the health of her child.

Anyway, Grandmother's funeral is tomorrow.


I hate funerals.

The Michelin Man's competition

I was searching for something on the Internet, I don't remember what, and I came across this picture:

Isn't this a bit...(gross) over the top (gross)? How do you function with muscles like this? This man MUST be on steroids. It's to the point where the muscles are actually unattractive. They look like very large corn kernels.

Some people's muscles actually split in half (I'm not joking) from excessive steroid use. The body can only take so much stress.

I think he needs Occupational Therapy to help him engage in more daily activities. I can't imagine what simple tasks, like shopping for clothes, driving a car, or going for a drink with friends, must be like. I'm only 150 pounds and I eat a LOT of food per day to keep my weight down. Imagine what his grocery bill must be like! Imagine what his portion sizes must be like! Wow.

He looks like a real-life version of the Michelin man...Michelin man, looks like you have competition.

I'll bet that grandma in the last post is having way more sex than this guy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Everyone is having sex! Even grandma!

One of the themes of Occupational Therapy is to enable people to engage in occupations, or their everyday activities, that make them happy or are meaningful to them. These activities vary from person to person and it will my job to discover what a client's occupations are and give them the tools to engage in it.

About a week or so ago in my Ethics course we discussed something that affects most people at some point and is as natural as breathing: S-E-X! There are eight Areas of Occupation in Occupational Therapy. An Area of Occupation is a 'category' under which any activity in which you engage falls. These areas are, in no particular order:

Activities of Daily Living (activities you do to take care of your own body, like feeding or dressing yourself)
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (activities you do in home/community that are a bit more complex than ADL's, like taking care of a pet or balancing your checkbook)
Rest & Sleep




Social Participation

Under Social Participation falls sexual activity. Many people don't think about seniors or people with disabilities wanting to have sex, let alone actually having sex. But those that fall into these groups have these desires the same as everyone else.

As an OT, I have to consider that this subject may come up with a client--What sexual activities are available for a 23-year old male with a spinal cord injury? How do I address this with a client? How can I create an environment and a trusting relationship so that the client is comfortable discussing this with me? Am I willing to accept that my 80-year old male client in the nursing home wants to hump his 78-year old female peer?

Many of us can't think about our parents having sex, we often cringe--ewwwwww!--because it's too gross. But it happens! (How do you think we all got here anyway?) And others of us don't think about seniors or people with disabilities having sex because it's not a subject we deal with regularly or we don't believe sex is an option for them. But it is...

An illustration:

A few years ago, a gentlemen of about 45 or 50-years old who is an upper manager in a hospital called me and requested that I help one of his elderly clients with a real estate issue she was having. This woman was 71 or 72 years old at the time, I can't remember exactly which. When I showed up at her house to talk with her we got off the subject on more personal matters and the conversation went something like this:

Her: I'm glad you came by because I don't get many visitors. Who sent you again?

Me: Mr. X, you know, the Manager of Unit Y at Hospital Z.

Her: Oh my goodness! HE sent you! Wow, he is just so handsome! I want to marry him but he has a wife and I would have to find a way to get rid of her first. She's not all that cute anyway. So he sent you, huh? That means he was thinking about me! He makes me hot! I just want to throw him down on the table and kiss him. I would just let him have his way with me, I really would. I need to get over to that hospital and see him as soon as possible. And... (she goes on and on)

Me (stunned and trying not to look utterly appalled, but probably failing at this attempt): Lady this is NOT what I want to hear. Really, it isn't. You're old, like old enough to be my grandmother. Please keep those comments to yourself...

Ok, seriously, what I really said was something like: Wow, really? You should go see him. (but I said it REAL dry)

So you see, even Occupational Therapists have their faults. I'm really opening myself up to you all right now by admitting my thoughts on this conversation. But I'm doing this because I want to illustrate that everyone has sexual desires and we shouldn't put people in a box just because we can't imagine them doing things outside of that box. It's important to open our horizons because engagement in activities you enjoy makes life interesting and fun, right? Of course! And this is what Occupational Therapy is all about.

So, in a nutshell, everyone is having sex! Just accept it! Ha ha!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Study tips! How to get an A in every class...

Oh yeah, btw, through all the commotion with my Grandma I failed to say that I passed all my exams with A's. Yes, I received an A on every single one!

Studying hard pays off! So, if you're in an Occupational Therapy program (or any educational program at all) here are some of the things I did along with some things I will be doing in the future:

1. Preview notes before class so that you have some sort of understanding of what the instructor will talk about. Most instructors these days use Powerpoint so this should be easy to do.

2. Review notes after class or later that day to solidify what you've learned in class.

3. If you can, TAPE the lectures!!! This was a HUGE help to me. Then, listen to the lecture as if your life depends on it. Listen while you drive, while you take the bus, while you walk to wherever you going, just listen, listen, listen. Depending on how you think about this, as in your life (career), does depend on it!

4. Ask questions! You know how they say if you don't understand something chances are 1 or 2 other people in class don't get it either??? It's true!! Even if it's not true, ask anyway because you need to know the information. No one is going to think you're stupid. And if they do, then THEY'RE stupid!!! See, so now YOU think THEY'RE stupid...see how that all works out???

5. Use the Internet!! If you don't understand something and your instructor isn't explaining it well the Internet has all the answers! Really, it does. Just Google the key words and search, search, search! Use videos and pictures to help. YouTube is awesome also. My nephew picked up long division in a matter of minutes by reviewing videos on YouTube! The Internet is awesome. It works! I promise!

6. If you have the time and energy, rewrite your notes, or at least the most important parts, into your own words. This is another thing that helped me. It took me awhile to do it but it helps sooo much, especially if you're visual, as I am.

7. Be able to explain EVERYTHING in your own words. Pretend like your 80-year old Grandma asked you how something you learned about in class works, then explain that subject to her. You are, of course, talking to yourself but who'll know unless you're doing it in public? So, alk to yourself about it. If you can do this, then you truly understand the material.

8. Draw pictures!!! Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? Yes, they are! When you're in school, pictures are worth lots of A's! So, draw as many pics as you can to understand concepts and then talk (to yourself or that Grandma you just made up) about how it works.

9. Study the subject REPEATEDLY. Then start from the beginning and study it again. Then start from the beginning and study it again. Then start from the beginning and study it again...These are not typos...see a pattern here??? Repetition is the key to learning. Don't expect to review something once or twice and know it. How do you learn a song? Or someone's name? How did you learn to tie your shoe? You repeat it OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Studying is no different. I studied all my Occupational Therapy subjects so many times I started seeing their concepts in my everyday activities. When I looked at a door hinge I saw a second class lever. When I sat in a chair, I saw an eccentric, closed chain movement. When I lifted weights I imagined the actin and myosin in my muscles getting bigger. This tip works...maybe a little too well!

10. DON'T EAT!!! Eating wastes precious study time. Just kidding! I couldn't think of a real #10 so I put this one instead. Ten tips sounds better than 9 tips, right? Even though I really didn't eat during my study time, don't be like me! Dare to be a leader, not a follower!


Happy studying!

OT job description!

Through this experience I have learned that it's important to recognize that during emotional times a family experiences a wide range of emotions--grief, anger, irritability, happiness, laughter, sadness...

Before my Grandmother died, I went to the hospital to see her. While there chatting with my family our cousin came to visit. As soon as she saw my Grandmother she asked my mother when was the last time someone came to 'turn' her.

(In case you don't know, it's important to literally 'turn' someone over every few hours so that they lay on different sides of their body. This process prevents bed sores which are terrible open wounds that develop when a body part has constant pressure with an object, such as a bed)

After some conversation it had been determined that no one had been in to turn Grandma for nearly 3 hours! She was supposed to be turned every 2 hours. The nurse was called.

While the nurse was turning Grandma I began asking all types of questions, it's totally natural for me to do this. My family gets on me about this all the time but it's my nature, I can't help it.

The nurse was sooooo non-chalant and disinterested that I found myself getting irritated and asking even MORE questions, but with frustration in my voice. Perhaps my family sensed this because then they became irritated with me.

It wasn't until a few days later that I realized there is an Occupational Therapy lesson in this. As an OT, I will be working with all types of people and their family and caregivers. People respond differently to grief, pain and confusion. It's my job as an OT to do my best to read between the lines, stay calm and ANSWER QUESTIONS. The nurse 'caring' for my Grandma failed to do this!

As health professionals, it's important that we are ALWAYS empathetic. If someone asks a question, and we are not breaking privacy or ethical laws, it's important to answer as best we can, in the simplest language possible, so that the family members understand WHY we are there and WHY we are performing certain treatments.

Many people don't understand what Occupational Therapy is so if I approach a client in a hospital room and start giving orders--'Raise your arm,' 'Lift your leg,' 'Grab this,' 'Close that,'--how the heck are they supposed to know who I am and the purpose of all the directions???? They won't know! This is why it's important for me to inform them AND answer questions as thoroughly as possible.

A family's job is to concentrate on loving and caring for their injured family member. My job is make sure everyone understands what's going on in therapy AND to be as empathic and understanding as possible.

Basically, my job is to be the exact OPPOSITE of my Grandmother's nurse.

I've never seen Mom cry...

This event has been hard on all of us. To watch someone deteriorate and die is a terrible, incredibly emotional process. But, I'm glad to have known my Grandmother before the disease took over. I'm grateful that she loved my mother, uncles and aunts enough to show them how to love their children.

I have yet to see my Grandfather. I can't imagine being married for 57 years and then one day your partner is gone. Isn't that nearly unfathomable? I'm 30 years old. And the only people I have known for all 30 years are my Mom and Dad. My sisters were not yet born so I've known them slightly less than 30 years but I've known Mom, Dad and senior members of the family my entire life.

Mom is 56. That means she's had her mother for 56 years. This is the only life she knows. She doesn't know life without her mother. I'm tearing up now thinking about this, what this all means. One day, my Mom will pass. What will that be like for me? I can't bear to think about it.

I have never seen my mother cry.

I've been trying to think of events but I can't. I just don't ever remember seeing my mother cry. I know she cries because my aunts have told me they've seen her in that vulnerable moment, but I've never seen it. I've seen my Dad cry once--when his father died. It's interesting to think of your parents crying.

My sister called me from the hospital to tell me Grandma died (Sis in the hospital is another story). Mom was sitting with my sister when Granddad called to tell her the news. Sis said she just broke down. I'm very grateful my Grandfather was with his wife when she passed. That's so important to me.

Sis called me asked me to meet Mom at the house so she wouldn't be alone.

When Mom drove up she was was odd to see her cry. I told myself I wouldn't cry and I didn't.

I hugged Mom for a long time and told her not to hold it in, just let it out. And she did. I just kept hugging her.

When she calmed a bit I said:

Me: Mom, Sis told me what you told Grandma before she passed. I'm glad you did that.

Mom: Yeah, people have been telling me that sometimes parents stay alive through pain because they're worried about their children. I wanted her to know we would be okay. I'm glad I went to the hospital to see Grandma before going to see your sister.

Me: Yeah, me too. What did you say to Grandma?

Mom: I told her that she's been a great Mom and that it's ok to go because she's done a great job raising us and we'll be ok.

Me: Wow, Mom, that was a great thing to say. She did do a good job raising you guys. Except for Uncle Fred...he's questionable.

Mom: HA HA HA HA HA! You so silly!

I've seen Mom laugh many, many times. I'm glad to have made her laugh in that moment.

Death of a Matriarch

Well, if you've been following me (what's my readership now, I wonder? How can I get one of those people counter thingies?) you probably noticed that I've been MIA for about two weeks.

My grandmother has had Alzheimer's for about 1.5 years now and over the last two weeks she fell extremely ill. She has been in the hospital undergoing multiple surgeries--kidney, gallbladder and so on. This past week she was completely unresponsive. Not even the almighty Occupational Therapy could help her. It was like she was in a coma. Her eyes were always closed, she didn't move much, she didn't speak at all.

Nurses would come in and turn her (at our prompting, they were NOT on their game! tsk tsk!) and wash her. She had to be fed through a tube in her nose. This is my mother's mother. My mother was at the hospital nearly every day. She would talk with her Mom (even though Grandma didn't respond or blink an eye), moisturize her face, put Cocoa and Shea butters on her lips to prevent dryness and soreness and call the nurses to care for Grandma.

It seemed as if my Grandma was holding on...but for what? Her body was failing her. The woman I knew as my grandmother didn't quite exist anymore. When she saw me she would request that I leave the house because I was not welcomed. The disease had taken over her physical and mental state.

My mother has been grieving internally for months. The end was inevitable, we all knew it.

So, through the advice of close friends my mom went to the hospital, sat with Grandma, and said what she knew would give Grandma ultimate rest.

Mom: Mom, we love you so much. You've been a good mother to us. You raised us to be good, productive people. You're tired and I hate seeing you suffer. It's ok to go rest. We'll all be okay. You did an excellent job raising us. We love you.

Grandma died a few hours later.