Friday, May 13, 2011

Where Do We Step In?

When my mom told me on the phone that my grandma was having trouble remembering the last 24 hours, that she didn't know how she got to where she was, that she may have had a stroke, I felt nothing. I knew she was talking about my Nan, but it felt like she was talking about some stranger. Even when my cousin called me, and was absolutely hysterical about the whole thing, I still felt numb and disturbingly calm. Then, all at once the grief swept over me and overtook me. I couldn't breathe and felt myself gasping for air between sobs and tears.

Luckily Nan ended up being okay - no permanent damage. But when I called her the day after to see if she was okay, my grief turned into anger as soon as she started explaining that she had just "overdone it" and was "just dehydrated", even though the doctors told her she had experienced a mini-stroke. I just about lost it when I told her she needed to lower her cholesterol and she stubbornly responded "oh, I don't subscribe to that school of thought".

So what do you do when someone is so out of touch with reality? Is it my job as her granddaughter to somehow convince my western-medicine hating grandma that she has to change her life? Is it even possible? Sadly, I don't think I'll ever get through to her.

So the next question is do I continue to worry that she will have another (more devastating) stroke in the future? I think for my own sanity I can't. Ultimately it's her choice if she chooses to believe in aliens, psychics, teleporting and "natural" medicine. (and when I say "natural" medicine in the sense that my grandma believes in it, I mean basically anything that she reads in quack magazines that goes against main-stream western medicine). I have come to the realization that - for my own sanity - I simply must separate myself from all of it and accept the consequences of her lifestyle choices.

If anything, it's good practice for difficult patients later on, because I don't think it gets much more difficult than good ol' Nanny.

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