A quandry

I got a double whammy this past week. My first semester back doing post-bacc, I pulled a 4.0 (that was the good thing). The bad thing is my grandmother, who I am very close to, was diagnosed with an agressive form of pancreatic cancer. There isn’t anything they can do for her except make her comfortable. They gave her six months (is it like the expiration dates you find on dairy products or what??). huh.gif
Don’t know why I am writing, guess I just need a place to process it. I was supposed to go on a Texas med school tour trip with my pre-med club last week and ended up missing it because I was running the doctor gamut at the hospital with my grandmother. The youngster in charge of coordinating the tour emailed me at one point and hoped “my grandmother got better”. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh hysterically or get angry. I think I just laughed…
I am not sure if I should take classes over the summer or just hang out. I would rather have the time to spend with my grandmother, but she doesn’t want any of us to put our lives on hold for her (I get my stubborness from her). I guess I should go up to school and talk to the pre-med advisor and see what he says.
Thanks for reading. Think I’ll go find something to keep busy with. I’ve already painted 3 walls of our living room, put 2 coats of polyurethane on an outside door we found and cleaned my garage.

QUOTE (claycat @ May 19 2003, 11:07 PM)
Thanks for reading. Think I'll go find something to keep busy with. I've already painted 3 walls of our living room, put 2 coats of polyurethane on an outside door we found and cleaned my garage.

Wow. I usually deal with stress by not showering, sitting around the house in sweatpants, and obsessively cruising the internet.
Sorry about your grandma. Everyone has an ending to the story of her life; just think about helping to make this a story which honors the good life she has led. If you could take the summer off without due hardship, I suspect you would not regret that decision. Maybe it would be too problematic for you though, and you'll have to make it work. That's okay. Sometimes we have to compromise.
Keep us informed of how things are unfolding.

claycat, I’m really sorry to hear about your grandmother. I can appreciate your dilemma. My mom was diagnosed with lymphoma just before my freshman year of medical school, and I was all set to drop everything so that I could do whatever it was she would need. Her situation wasn’t as immediately dire as what you face with your grandmother, though, and so it was easy for me to quickly realize that I should not postpone school.
But your grandmother’s wishes should be considered, too. Could you perhaps take LESS coursework during the summer than you’d planned - or pick up a course that is less demanding than what you’d previously intended? I think your grandmother probably wants to promote a “life goes on” attitude, and I agree with her in many ways. But i also know that you will be tremendously regretful if you don’t get to spend the time with her that you would like.
I don’t know if this will help you - when I was contemplating postponing my med school start by a year, i realized it would be silly, as my mom was inordinately proud of me and even before I started, was looking forward to seeing me graduate. And I thought, well, geez, if there is ANY hope of Mom seeing me graduate, i had best get my butt into school and get through it while she is still around. I know it would be highly unrealistic to suggest that your grandmother will be able to see you that far in your path, but I am sure that she is very much enjoying watching you take these initial steps in your journey. I think she’d probably like to see you take another step or two while she’s around.
Again, I don’t know the situation and I realize that my own experience isn’t THAT comparable, so I just offer up these random and probably not-awfully-coherent thoughts for what they’re worth.

Hey Claycat,
I just wanted to say that I'm thinking good thoughts for you. I don't know if it will do any good but that's what I'm doing. I'm sure you will figure out what is best.

I really sympathize with your situation. Maybe you could work out a compromise like some other posters have mentioned–like staying in school but taking a lighter courseload? It's probably worth it if it means you get to spend some extra time with your grandmother.
My thoughts are with you!

I just wanted to say thanks to everybody. I called her last night and she is feeling ok. The jaundice is slowly going away (she had a liver stent put in) and she is resting. She honestly sounded better than I have heard her in months. Her old family dr, who she also worked, for called last night to tell her not to be a hero and to take her pain meds. chuckle I'd say he knows her pretty good. Anyway, off to work. Hope everybody has a good one.

Make that knows her well… Not enough coffee to the brain yet. biggrin.gif

So sorry to hear about your grandmother.
When mine was diagnosed with this rare auto-immune disease, whose name esacpes me, it really meant a lot to me to spend time with her.

I hit a compromise. I am only taking one class this summer and spending Sundays in east Texas at my grandmother’s house. She has lost a lot of weight and hasn’t been eating very much. The combination of tumor and chemo make her nauseous. She doesn’t drive anymore (I think that is very hard for her) and has started home health care (it will turn into hospice later) and Meals on Wheels. She still has her game night and her bridge club and her lunch bunch, but the other little grey haired ladies drive. No high speed collisions in this town! laugh.gif
She asked if I would be willing to come out and stay with her when hospice started. I am the most flexible schedule -wise in the family. If she can get somebody there 24/7 (I would be there for the nights), they gave her the option of staying home instead of going to a nursing home or the resident hospice place 40 minutes away. I would rather have her at her house where I know she is comfortable than have her put someplace she doesn’t want to be.
I told her that she is the main priority (my wife is incredible) in my life right now and that medical school would be there when I got back to pursuing it. I am probably not going to take classes in the fall so that I can remain “mobile” if I need to get out to east Texas. She told me that she can tell that she is getting weaker and weaker with each day and that when hospice started, it wouldn’t be long.
Anyway, that’s the latest chapter in my saga. “How I Spent my Summer Vacation”; I get to learn all about end-of-life medical care.

Hi there,
Let me emphasize that I totally understand the stress of being the primary emotional support for a loved one who is batteling a terminal disease. The stress is unbelievable. That being said, you might want to put your classwork on hold so that you won’t have the stress of classwork and dealing with your grandmother’s health issues. It is very admirable that you have assumed this role and your grandmother is fortunate to have such support. As things get closer to the end, the stress level will increase.
Pancreatic cancer is notorius for being aggressive enough to kill a patient within three weeks so six months is a very optimistic prognosis. I am stating this for you to be prepared for things to move faster than you might anticipate. I would hope that you have your grandmother as comfortable as possible and with you as long as possible. She sounds like a pretty feisty fighter who is determined to face this problem head-on with your support. In the end, you are going to be glad that you could be there for her.
Be sure to take plenty of time for yourself and be aware of your own emotional needs and your wife’s needs. She is going to be going through this with you because she loves you. Also remember that you can vent with us on this forum. There are lots of supportive folks who understand where you are coming from. Take care and take care of yourself. You are an extraordinary grandson. smile.gif

I can say nothing else other than to reiterate what Nat said…
Please feel free to vent, we are all here for you.

QUOTE (DoctorGeo2008 @ Jun 25 2003, 03:59 AM)
Please feel free to vent, we are all here for you.

What they said.

I went out today to driver her to get her nails done. She has lost another 3 lbs in less than a week. Her forearms are not much bigger in diameter than a half dollar coin (I think that’s the big one) and when I hugged her, I could feel every rib and the ridges on her backbone (through her clothes).
On another note…I was coming home today and driving through one of the many little towns and got rear-ended by a small truck going 55 mph. I was stopped at a light and hit the lady in front of me. Fortunately my truck is a larger truck and absorbed most of his impact so the lady in the Toyota Echo was fine and had no visible damage to her car. The guys front bumper is flush with grill of his truck, his front plate was almost ripped off by my under body trailer hitch, and I have a dent in my rear bumper and it’s bent down… Joy and happiness. I think I’ll go hide the rest of the day… <!–emo&<_dry.gif The poor guy in the other truck had just been run off the road (I saw it) by a teenager and he said that he had buried his grandmother 3 hours earlier. Happiness for everyone!

I took a leave of absence from work to spend time taking care of my mother after she had a stroke and was dying and I have never regretted it. You will be glad you had this time with your grandmother.
Take care of yourself too.

Claycat - I just want to whole-heartedly agree w/ Natalie's advice. I didn't take that advice last fall when my mom moved in with us during her radiation, and I was caring for her full time during most of the semester. The result was some pretty piss-poor grades and months of recovery time for me. I took the Spring semester off just so I could regain some equilibrium.
As a group, I'd say we can cope with more than a lot of people can, but we are wise to remember that we are not superhuman. Caretaking for a close relative, especially toward the end, is emotionally and physically brutal. Please do not underestimate the amount of energy it takes on your part, or overestimate your ability to deal with it. There are times in our lives when stuff has to be put on hold, or plans have to be rearranged in order to keep our heads on straight so we can continue later.
Sucks about the accident, but I'm glad you're ok!

Your post brought back memories of my own grandmother's illnesses. Three years ago, we found out that she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and pancreatic cancer. Although I have two able body sisters and one brother…my mother and I were her only caretakers.
Her doctors insisted that she had hepatitis and was not going to die. For weeks we entered her room wearing protective clothing. Approx. four weeks before she passed, they said it was cancer. This was the catalyst that pushed me to follow the medical school dream.
I am sure that your grandmother like mine REALLY appreciates your support. Look out for yourself and I will be praying for you.

The update:
She has been getting weaker and weaker (and thinner) every week. She only got up from her chair once this past Sunday and I thought she was going to fall. She slowly made it to the bathroom and back. She had her last round (of 7) chemo treatments Monday. She gets next week off and then starts a 2 weeks chemo/1 week off regimen. She says that she is having pain and even her good days aren’t so good. She has started taking more and more naps and says that her legs are constantly cold. Suprisingly, she is in pretty good spirits. She says that it aggravates her that her body won’t let her do the things she wants. Otherwise she seems as content as someone in her place could be.
She isn’t ready to formally start hospice, but I am going to move stuff out there this weekend and go out the middle of next week. I don’t think it will be long before hospice actually starts- she already has what I call “hospice light” going on. The home health care people are out 3 times a week to bathe her and the nurse comes out to take her vitals and such. I have talked to my physics prof and she is willing to give me an incomplete and I have cleared it with my advisor to take the fall semester off.
We are having a birthday party for her this weekend. It is her birthday Sunday. She is looking forward to it and has been resting all week for it she said.
Thank you to everybody. It helps to have someplace to be able to put what is happening in black and white.

thanks for keeping us updated, claycat. Your grandmother is blessed to have a loving grandson like you, and I'm glad you are getting to take this time with her.