Nana’s Adversity

Posted January 23, 2018

Nana is a fighter.

Over the past 13 years, she has been hospitalized more than 15 times. We believe the number of illnesses that she suffered before her Alzheimer’s diagnosis contributed to the rapid progression of her disease, and now her Alzheimer’s has contributed to her more recent hospitalizations and injuries.

Explaining Nana’s ‘track record’ demonstrates how much she has endured while further illustrating her strong and determined personality and constitution, and in this blog I will do just that.

In 2004, she became septic from a UTI that turned into a Kidney Infection. Concerned by Nana’s vomiting and abnormal behavior, my mom brought her to the doctors. Nana had an extremely high white blood count and was immediately admitted into the intensive care unit. That same night, she suffered a heart attack and was also in kidney failure. Mom was told that Nana would not make it through the night – and she heard this for the next 7 days. However, against all odds, she recovered and was even able to drive again!

2007 marked her next life threatening hospitalization. This was also the year we noticed the beginning of Nana’s memory loss. Every night before bed Mom would go into Nana’s apartment to say goodnight. One summer night, as they were exchanging goodnights, Mom noticed that Nana was slurring her words and that one side of her mouth had dropped, a telltale sign of a stroke. Mom rushed her to the hospital where she was admitted once again and stayed for over two weeks. Thankfully, Nana had minimum lasting affects from the stroke; however, her memory worsened and she had more frequent episodes where she would act out of character.

From 2007 to 2010 Nana stayed relatively healthy but her memory continued to degrade and she was eventually formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

In 2011, Nana was hospitalized for a broken vertebrae caused by her osteoporosis and again in 2012.

In 2013 and 2014 she suffered two bowel obstructions. In 2013, her bowel obstruction did not require surgery; she was placed in a rehab facility for 3 weeks and then returned home. On the contrary, in 2014, she was hospitalized for a severe bowel obstruction that required surgery, which was a very dangerous procedure at her age of 88.

I still remember vividly how sick Nana was the day she was brought in for her second bowel obstruction. Mom and I wandered into Nana’s apartment to ask her if she had any plan for day. When we walked in, we were immediately hit by an overwhelming aroma. Deciding to take another step in to see what horrible scent had flooded our noses, we discovered vomit scattered all across her bedroom floor. However, it was not normal throw up, her obstruction was so severe that she was actually throwing up her feces.

Although the risks associated with performing the surgery were very high, she survived and was once again placed in a rehab facility for 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks was over she did not return home. Her condition had become so advanced that it would be almost impossible to take care of her without professional help, so we were advised to place her in a nursing home with 24-hour care. Since then, she has been living at nursing homes close to our house, which enables us to visit her all the time. In fact, Mom visits her every single day and my little sister and my dad visit her frequently as well. My older sister and I visit her has much as we can, but we both live away from home for the majority of the year.

In addition to the previously mentioned hospitalizations, Nana has also been hospitalized for a UTI over 10 times since 2004. More recently she has suffered numerous falls and common colds that become more severe due to her age and stage of disease.

Nana has been through so much but has faced adversity with happiness and love. At 92, she is still bubbly and loving, trying to take care of everyone. She even tries to take care of the nurses at her nursing home.