Friday, August 13, 2010

Why I'm wishing I never went into science

My grandfather is dying. He will probably pass in today as they've stopped all meds, except the painkillers.
Although we knew he was getting weak and hadn't recovered fully from a bout of pneumonia last winter. We figured the warm summer months would keep him healthy over the summer, but that he would probably succumb to an infection during the cold and flu season of the winter months.

Then he collapsed. I spent all day at the local small hospital, advocating on his behalf (did I ever remember Zuska's many posts on trying deal with her moms many doctors). We were told that Grandpa SM had issue x that could be solved with surgery, but the surgery was risky. He would die without surgery and the surgery was 20x riskier. We were told he had a 20-30% chance of death, so of course we said do the surgery.
He was transferred to the major trauma center and we were told that he wouldn't survive surgery. I understood everything. All the medical jargon, I could listen in on their conversations and knew how dire the situation was.
And I have to communicate that to my husband and my in laws. How do you tell someone their father/grandfather is going to die and they must choose how he will die. With dignity and peace or trying every last measure to save him? How do you tell someone who hours before you assured that their father/grandfather would be ok with time is not going to be?
I am the only person who did biology. Out of my inlaws, only mr. Sm and I have gone to university. When I tell them that organ x has perforated, they don't understand what that means in terms of the poison running into Grandpa's body. They look at mr with hope on their eyes saying, but SM it will heal right? Right.
I know what is happening to my grandfather. I knew there was no hope. And I have to tell that.

23 comments:

Alyssa said...

Oh, SM, I'm so sorry that you, your family, and your grandfather are going through all of this. I don't envy you for being able to understand exactly what's going on and having to be the go between. But, I'm sure your family feels lucky to have you there to help get them through this trying time (even though it must be such a burden on you).

Sending you lots of hugs and positive thoughts.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I'm so sorry about your grandfather, that is so sad.

It really is hard being that go-between. I haven't had to deal with this in my immediate family, but my parents turned to me to explain the cancer prognoses of my auntie (good) and my parents' dear friend (as soon as they told me what she had I knew she had no chance, and they saw my face over Skype and knew what it meant).

Stay strong - I know it must be incredibly hard. Love and hugs. Let me know if you want a shoulder to cry on later (I'm away tomorrow until Monday, but around after that).

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

p.s. we should all be so lucky as to go peacefully, surrounded by family who love us and want the best for us.

chall said...

I sorry SM. I hope it all goes as good as it can go (or what ever one says. Without pain and in peace?)

I know what you mean though... I ended up being the go between my family a while back... it's hard. And I hated every minute of hearing the jargon speak and trying to hope...

And pneumonia is very hard on the body of older people (and younger too). You and you family are in my thoughts. Lots of virtual hugs and strenght.

Professor in Training said...

SM, that sounds awful. Hope your grandfather is comfortable and knows that his family are with him.

And yes, it sucks being the only one in the family who understands what's going on.

Mrs.Spit said...

Wishing you all God speed.

Ambivalent Academic said...

So sorry. :(

Girlpostdoc said...

SM I'm so sorry to hear about your grandfather.

It is indeed hard being the "translator" in these circumstances. But in some ways it's a huge plus because now the family doesn't have to suffer the not knowing. Not knowing just adds another burden to the family's grief.

My thoughts are with you. A big huge virtual hug. Stay strong.

Girlpostdoc said...

SM I'm so sorry to hear about your grandfather.

It is indeed hard being the "translator" in these circumstances. But in some ways it's a huge plus because now the family doesn't have to suffer the not knowing. Not knowing just adds another burden to the family's grief.

My thoughts are with you. A big huge virtual hug. Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

When it rains, it pours. Sorry this has come immediately after your comps debacle. You will pull through this, too. Your grandfather has been blessed to have such an intelligent and compassionate granddaughter.

Samia said...

I'm sorry to hear this, SM. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Fia said...

hugs. stay strong.

biochem belle said...

SM, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandfather. ((hugs))

EcoGeoFemme said...

So sorry.

One in 36 Million's Mom said...

This is so hard for you, and the entire family. I do hope your family appreciate that you can interpret the medical realities, false hopes add to the grief when the inevitable happens.
Is your Grandfather aware that his family is with him? Is he kept comfortable? That would be my focus, that he be the center. Life is so short.
Caring Thoughts & Hugs to you and your family.

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

I am so sorry. I've only had to be the go between for a family friend and that was difficult enough. I'm keeping you all in my thoughts.

HGGirl said...

So sorry. Our thoughts are with you.

Balancing Act said...

I am so sorry for you and your family.

Julia said...

Sooo sorry to hear about your Grandfather P - you are doing an amazing thing though being his advocate and translator for your family. Hard hard hard for you to wear the two hats though. Thinking of you - big hugs

JaneB said...

So sorry to hear about this difficult time - but at least you ARE there and CAN translate - I personally think it's always better that people have the knowledge, the chance to say the key things that they might not say if they thought there were still weeks and months left...

LabMom said...

I am so sorry you have to go through this. I'll be thinking of you. :(

unlikelygrad said...

I have to say that I'm sorry you have to go through this. But it sure feels like a completely pointless thing to say. I'm so so sorry...

Zuska said...

I am so sorry. I just read this and your next post. I know what it is like trying to be the medical expert for your family, and trying to deal with your own emotions at the same time. I am sure it was a comfort to your family members to have someone to help them negotiate the medical jargon and all the decisions that had to be made. I know that my mother has always been grateful to have me there to explain things and help with the decisions, I would bet your grandfather and family members felt/feel the same. All my sympathy to you.