this is not a happy list.
  1. In June of 2006, my grandmother went in for outpatient shoulder surgery.
    She had to be in a sling for six weeks after, so instead of me getting a summer job, she 'hired' me to help take care of her.
  2. When my mom picked her up from the hospital, she was told it went okay, but there had been a few problems.
    When she asked what happened, they said my grandmother had woken up during the surgery. They knocked her out again, but she might remember some things.
  3. We quickly figured out something had gone majorly wrong.
    For the week after the surgery, I was never sure if my grandmother would know who I was when I walked in. She thought I was her mother, her children, her ex-husband, my sisters, or me by turn. She kept thinking she was still in surgery & crying & crying. She kept screaming crying begging me for more Vicodin even when she'd just taken some because she thought she was still in surgery & in pain from it. She kept asking me to get her mother (who died before I was born).
  4. She didn't get better.
    She had a series of small strokes. She kept having them. I walked in on her one time with a serrated knife trying to slice open the bottle of Vicodin one handed. She cried when I took it away, but when I asked if she was in pain right at the moment, she said no, but she had been. In the operating room. Weeks before.
  5. The hallucinations stopped, but she still didn't get better.
    Her personality completely changed. She kept having tiny strokes. She started hoarding toilet paper. She started throwing out her possessions, like her earring collection she'd spent years amassing, each pair unique & filled with memories associated with the person she got them from or the place where she'd bought them. She stopped brushing her hair & her teeth. She stopped showering. She stopped eating. She said she wanted to die.
  6. It was like she had died, but her body didn't want to believe it.
    It was like she had died, but none of us could grieve her because her body just kept on living.
  7. Over several agonizing, horrific months, her condition stabilized.
    She got meds to prevent the strokes. She got meds to prevent the psychosis. She got meds to prevent the depression. There weren't any meds that could ever bring her back.
  8. My mother & sisters & I swore to each other we would never have any surgery that we had to be knocked out for unless we absolutely couldn't avoid it.
  9. My mother has bony growths under her tongue (mandibular tori) that have grown so large that they absolutely must be removed.
  10. Tomorrow, my mother goes in for outpatient oral surgery.