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Thursday, October 15, 2009


It is almost Friday morning. I really should have gone to bed about an hour or more ago but I am still up pounding out this blog post for my 5 readers.

I have been spending a lot of time at the hospital lately.

My grandmother was first admitted with severe back pain. After almost 14 days in the hospital she has been diagnosed with a few different things-
  • Septic Arthritis
  • Pinched nerves
  • Staph Infection in her blood
  • Pneumonia
  • Tumors in her back
All of this and having to deal with it and having Alzheimer's.

Most of the time she has not had any ideas as to what is going on. Some medication that was supposed to help her has only had the opposite effect on her than it was supposed to. Delusional, disoriented, tired, in pain, forgetful and feeling alone she lay in her bed waiting to finally get out of that place.

The Alzheimer's is truly the worst part of it all. Sometimes she knows what is going on and other times she can barely remember anyone's name. Tonight she could not remember what her house or dog looked like so with thanks to the hospital's WiFi signal and my iPod Touch I was able to refresh her memory...for a moment at least.

Helping someone like her through something like this is very difficult on 2 counts. The first count is memory. Every time a question is asked an answer is given; but then it is asked again a minute later and it is then answered again a minute later. It is this sick feeling of talking to someone that you know is trapped in the scratched record of their mind. At first I could very easily understand why it seemed that one of my aunts got so frustrated so easily, but then after a while there was a certain serenity that set in when it dawned on me that even if she asked me the same question 1000 times in a row I would continue to faithfully answer as though it were the first time. She can't help it.

Some of the constant nagging questions-

What happened to me?
Why does my back hurt?
How long have I been here?
When can I go home?
Is anyone going to stay here over night with me?
Why is God doing this to me?
Why is God mad at me?
Am I going to die?

I don't mind the first questions but when it comes to the questions about God I think I might need to take a bathroom break.

I just can't answer those questions in a way that is prudent to her situation. I want to try and answer them but just not to her. She needs her faith right now; but I can at least try and answer them here-

God probably isn't doing this to you. Chances are, God has better things to do than take time out of his busy schedule to torture you. Chances are he isn't paying any attention at all right now because you, like me, are just a little speck of fly poop in this vast universe.

IF God is mad at you, then chances are it is for the same reason that he is mad at the rest of the world. If I were God and paying attention, I might be upset that so many people insist on making so many assumptions about me and form such imprisoning views of me based on their organized religions.

There was so much talk from others in the room as to how God was allowing these things as a test, or that it was just Satan trying to get her in her weakness to make her think that God didn't love her....take your pick of petty answers. My stomach churned as I listened to well meaning family members grasp at answers that none of them could know for sure. Which was worse- the fact that they didn't know the answers ultimately or that she couldn't remember them anyways?

The best answer that I could give when it was just she and I was just simply that her sickness had nothing to do with God and that it was just something that happened and she didn't need to worry herself with the details. The only thing that mattered was that she was getting better.

I don't mean for this to be a rant on religion; I just can't help but recall my feelings and observations about everything to this point:
  • Religion may provide answers but they aren't always good ones
  • Religion may provide good answers but it doesn't always mean that they are true
  • Religion can ultimately confuse otherwise simple happenings by adding additional dimensions to stress
  • People are people and they need to be treated with dignity regardless of their state
  • Even if people get better today there is no guarantee that they won't just shut down unexpectedly tomorrow from something else- don't take anyone for granted
  • It takes a village to care for a grandmother with such a terrible disease
  • To care for someone with Alzheimer's means that you must completely give up on any future appreciation and do it strictly because you love them selflessly because you will be forgotten
Each one of here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.- Rev. Maclean [A River Runs Through It]


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