Monday, February 23, 2009

He's NOT Plugged In!!!

I'm not sure where to start. My Opa (grandfather) was a healthy, vibrant man in his late 80's, who until just a few years ago would bike to his aqua fit class. Eventually he gave up the classes but he kept his bike and had adjusted to apartment life with my Oma (grandmother) in a retirement complex. Unfortunately, a few weeks before Christmas Opa had a stroke, and he remained in the hospital over Christmas. He finished his treatments at the hospital, but he wasn't able to walk, so he had to move into a nursing home, separate from my Oma.

From what I've seen and heard, he's not entirely happy. He feels like his new nursing home is a prison, and he misses his wife intensely. When his children come to visit, he often gets angry or refuses to speak if they won't take him out of his nursing home, and sometimes he just stares off into space without answering a question. Worst of all, in a family of card players, he will now play his cards out of turn, and take a trick that he hasn't won.

He tries to walk, but he just doesn't have the strength yet. I understand it's just a strength issue and maybe a pain issue, but that he may be able to walk if he continues his physiotherapy. So I've been praying for him, but not especially intensely my grandparents have had their challenges before and they've always bounced back. I've just assumed it would only be a matter of time until he was walking and would be allowed to move back in with his wife.

Last Saturday, at a birthday party for my Oma, I was shocked by some of the comments. First off, Opa wasn't there because the party was at his old retirement complex, and nobody wanted to take him back to the nursing home after, because there would be too much of a fight. I was disappointed, but I reluctantly agreed - I didn't want that fight either. As the afternoon went on, most of our conversation was about Opa, naturally everyone was sad about his situation. But I couldn't believe the emerging consensus opinion was it would have been better off if he died, I disagreed but felt hey - my aunts and uncles deserve to deal with this in their own way.

Then someone said, maybe we should just pull the plug . . . "HE'S NOT PLUGGED IN!!!!" I exclaimed. Fortunately that helped move the conversation along, but it was a wake up call. Since then I've been keeping Opa in mind and praying more intensely.

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