I wake up to the sound of my phone ringing. My heart drops into my stomach when I see the number. I suppose long before I looked, I knew it would only be the hospital calling me at this hour.
It’s 7:30am and I let the phone ring too many times. I’m too scared to answer but there is no choice.
I can barely hear myself say hello to Ellen, my grandma’s nurse. I can hear my heart beating in my ears.
She’s telling me my grandma has had a hard time breathing all night. They have her on a C-PAP machine, an oxygen mask that better flows oxygen through her body. Ellen tells me that if the C-PAP doesn’t bring her oxygen numbers up they will have to reintubate her-stick that wretched tube back down her throat.
“You should come now. Call your mom.”
Before I know it I’m running down the stairs of my grandma’s building. I’m running down Gross Point Road. I run all the way to the hospital as it starts to rain. My phone flies out of my pocket and shatters on the concrete in front of me. I don’t even care.
I’m running up the stairs to the ICU, through the doors to my grandma. My mom is almost right behind me.
Dr. Omari is standing outside of my grandma’s room. My mom and I look at him trying to understand how we got here from yesterday.
Ellen is standing with us now as Dr. Omari tells us something we have been ignoring for weeks now. My grandma is not going to get better. We had been here for 13 days and it was the first time one of her doctors looked us in the eye and said her recovery was less than 30%. He told us that even if she did recover it would be an excruciatingly painful process. Was she up for that?
Our family friend Hilary had gotten to the hospital during this time. She asked the Dr. Omari the question I didn’t want the answer to.
“If it was your mom, what would you do?” she asked.
Dr. Omari tells us he would do everything he possibly could and that her body would tell us if it wasn’t working.
He asked us what she would want if her oxygen got worse. We knew she would never want a tube down her throat again.
I signed my name on a Do Not Resuscitate. This meant that if her breathing did get worse they wouldn’t do anything except make her comfortable. I suppose that this moment is the first part of letting her go.
I watch her breathe for the rest of the day. Any time she looks like she may be struggling I panic.
My grandma’s nieces drive up to visit her today and it’s like the morning barely happened. It was as if my grandma heard us talking and she was saying, “Not yet! I’m still here.”
She speaks out loud to her niece Melody, nods her head to respond to questions, squeezes a hand or two.
I sit with her until she falls asleep.
I won’t sleep again for a long time.