Skylar called me a couple of days ago. "So, I just overheard the name of a patient we were admitting and either there are two Darlene McCanns in town or your grandma just got to the ER."
He's been working in the emergency department for the past few days and when he saw my grandma, whom we call G-Mac, he rushed over to her to find out what happened.
"Well," she told him. "I fell and they wanted to bring me here to get checked out but I told them I didn't want to go anywhere, but then a very hot EMT guy showed up so I changed my mind!"
Skylar said they decided to admit her to run some tests and try to determine what happened. G-Mac lives in a lovely independent living place for elderly people. She moved herself there about six years ago because she thought it would be good for her social life. On Friday, she and her friends had gone down to the basement to have their hair done in the facility's salon (she bragged to me recently that they only charge $16 for a cut and styling). When she went to stand up to get out of the chair, she essentially fainted and then next thing she knew, she was sitting in a wheel chair waiting for the paramedics to arrive.
G-Mac turned 90 a few months ago. We've been fortunate that her health has been pretty good. My grandpa died nearly 20 years ago so she's spent the last two decades on her own, which has been hard for her, an extreme extrovert.
In recent years, she's become much less mobile and can really only walk short distances and with extensive use of a walker. But otherwise, her eyesight, hearing, and memory has all remained intact.
Skylar called me with updates throughout the day. After some imaging, they determined she had had a small stroke. They decided to keep her for a couple of nights to run some additional tests, much to her chagrin.
"You should come visit G-Mac today," Skylar texted me the next morning from the hospital. "I just walked into her room to see how she was doing and she moaned 'I'm so borrrrrred.'"
This was not the best time for G-Mac to be hospitalized. Her kids and spouses, including my parents, had all just left for a cruise and have almost no cell service. What this means is my 34 first-cousins and infinite number of children from the next generation are fully responsible for navigating all of this.
I got to the hospital Saturday afternoon and found G-Mac sitting on the side of her bed, her legs dangling, munching on a bag of chips.
"Oh, hi honey," she said when she saw me. "I'm just so bored. I've only had 7 or 8 visitors today."
I suggested that that seemed to me to be quite a lot of visitors, especially considering that it was only 2:00 PM and she'd still have several more after me.
"I guess," she sighed. "Skylar has been coming in every hour to see how I'm doing and he's been sneaking me Diet Coke, so at least I have that."
Skylar has been the family MVP lately. My mom has undergone some major surgeries in recent months and has had a lot of doctor's visits and he has been going to all of them with her. During her most recent five-day stay at the hospital, he was on shift and was constantly stopping by to check on her and talk with the medical staff about her condition.
"That Skylar is a good man," my mom told me with tears in her eyes during one of my visits.
One of the nurses informed me that my mom had mentioned to every physician, nurse, and cleaning staff member that came into her room that her son-in-law was a doctor. "She is so proud of him," the nurse said.
G-Mac has apparently been doing the same thing, or so I discovered when her physician came into the room during my visit yesterday. "Is this your doctor grandson?" he asked her.
"No," G-Mac said. "This is his husband. And he's a lawyer." She emphasized that last word like she was introducing the queen.
The physician started giving me and G-Mac an update. He said they decided to let her go home in the morning but he recommended we arrange to have someone be with her at all times for the first 48 hours while home to keep an eye on her.
G-Mac looked at him in heartbreaking panic and said "well, I live alone and all of my children just went on a cruise without me."
I assured her we would make arrangements to have her grandchildren take shifts being with her. Just then Skylar walked in with another black market Diet Coke. Seeing this, the physician said "you're ok to have that, but I did want to talk to you about cutting back on the amount of sugar you're eating because--"
G-Mac cut him off mid-sentence. "I am 90. I think I'm doing just fine but thank you for the advice."
For a moment I thought I should interject and encourage her to hear the man out. But then I was like, meh. She makes a point.
Skylar told me afterward that if he is alive and well at 90 he's going to try heroin. "At this point, I say let her enjoy herself. She's not hurting anyone, and she's not afraid of death," he said, referring to the fact that every conversation with her eventually devolves into casual funeral planning.
It's strange watching your elderly family members in their final chapters. Funny, sad, unsettling, inspiring. All at the same time.
I'm fortunate to still have two living grandmas, both in their 90s. That could change at any moment, and I'm just supposed to be, like, ok with that?
I've got a roast cooking in the crockpot at the moment. Two of my cousins just brought G-Mac back home and are sitting with her and folding her laundry. They texted me and asked me to retrieve the final load from the drier later tonight when Skylar and I go to bring her dinner and play some games for the evening.
We'll sit with her, joking about hot EMTs and making sure she takes her medications. Eventually we'll help put her into bed and pass the baton off to the cousin who signed up to sleep there tonight.
My giant cousin text-chain coordinating all of these arrangements will continue, including jokes about G-Mac's quirks and how much all of our parents owe us for dropping this on us. Underlying the McCann family signature sarcasm is a simmering near-acknowledgment that we don't know how many more days of this we'll have. One day we'll miss days like this.
~It Just Gets Stranger