Gramma’s Episode


About every month or so, my mom and I make the two-hour trek from Peterborough to Barrie to visit my Gramma. Gramma lives in a long-term care facility, but we call it a retirement residence. Gramma is 95. She’s physically fit for someone of her age and has the sharpest wit she’s always had. She has two issues: her memory (from Alzheimer’s) and what they call her “episodes.” Her episodes consist of her passing out and losing all control. This lasts for a couple of minutes and then she comes to not knowing that anything had just happened – the memory part.

She’s been lucky in that most of the times that she’s passed out she’s been seated and therefore just slumps down onto the floor. But one time in particular she took quite a fall and was bruised and banged up pretty bad. Several doctors and nurses have examined her and no one can seem to explain why she has these episodes. We usually learn of them by a phone call from the facility telling us what had happened and informing us that she is now resting comfortably. Though disturbing, somehow these calls didn’t really make an impact. Until our visit before Christmas.

Things were going along as usual. We were kibitzing back and forth when I noticed her start to become confused. She couldn’t finish her sentences and seemed a little weak. Then she said she didn’t feel well. Before we knew it she had passed out while sitting on her walker. My aunt was there as well. All three of us held her up. I was literally holding her head in my hands. I remember taking her glasses off because they were digging into the side of her beautiful face. Not as quickly as we’d have liked, the nursing staff arrived with her wheel chair and we transported her back to her room where they got her into bed to await the doctor. The long and short of it was that she had had another episode and there was nothing they could do for her other than to make her comfortable. They did give her a shot of gravol to settle her stomach.

Once the doctor had left and we were confident she was okay, we left. We left her there to sleep and eventually recover. I don’t know who recovered faster, her or me. It was very upsetting to have her collapse into our arms and be unresponsive. Feeling the need to be strong and helpful, I fought back tears and did what I could. Upon leaving I became very introverted and quiet. Later that day we went back to see Gramma to ease our minds. We found her sitting having dinner and doing quite well. That was reassuring. Afterwards all I wanted to do was go home. But I couldn’t. It was night time and we were two hours from home. We would spend the night and go home in the morning.

I couldn’t get home fast enough. I just needed to be in my safe place. It took me three days to recover. I was exhausted, depressed and had trouble sleeping. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown the following morning. Her episode was quite the ordeal to experience. I guess I don’t bounce back quite as well as Gramma does.

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