My grandmother is not doing well.
Short though that sentence is, it is very hard to write. I hate admitting that she's not herself anymore. Or, rather, she's herself as if visiting from an alternate reality. Sometimes.
For those of you who haven't met my grandmother, let me introduce you to her. She is known by many names - Carrie, Verda, Nanny, Meemee. To me she is Nana. But she is more than that. She is the woman I consider my grandmother. She is not related to me by blood, but I am more like her than I am some of my blood relatives.
When I was born, I had only one living biological grandparent - my mother's mother. She died before I turned one.
Nana was a friend of my father's family. Nana and her husband (Papaw) never had any children of their own, but they helped raise nineteen children, including me. When my parents moved to the farm, Nana and Papaw sold their home and moved to the farm with us.
Papaw died when I was six, and Daddy died two years later. For a very long time, it's been me and Mom and Nana. We're a family.
Nana took me to church. Nana taught me how to make hot chocolate and fried toast. Nana taught me how to pay bills.
Three weeks ago, she had an episode. She couldn't find her bedroom and didn't know where she was. I thought, because she has COPD, that she needed oxygen from her tank. We hooked the tube under her nose, and she was back to her normal self in about forty-five minutes.
When I came home from work that day, Mom said Nana got mad at her at lunchtime for not bringing food for the men working on the house. There were no men working on the house. Only Nana saw them and even called one of them by name.
The next day was worse.
The next day she seemed fine, but on the advice of her doctor, we took her to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital.
She was admitted and spent a week in the hospital getting test after expensive test run with no real diagnostic result. One doctor said TIAs, one said dementia, one said seizures.
Mom and I believe TIAs.
Nana is now home. She is not better. The arthritis, sciatica and pinched nerves in her back, hips and leg - which she has had for years and months, respectively - is worse. The itch she has over her entire body - which she has had for more than a year - is worse than ever causing her to scratch and bleed almost constantly.
And the hallucinations and delirium and confusion continue. She still sometimes cannot find her room. She still sometimes sees people in the house. She tells me stories about riding on the railroad and helping to make beds on the train cars. She thinks this happened. And she thinks this happened recently.
I treat her comments as if they're true, unless I need to make a correction.
Her sense of humor is still there. Her mischievous smile. A bit of the sparkle has left her eyes though, and she knows something is wrong.
She cannot be left alone.
I wish I could help her. I wish there was something I could do. She's my Nana. I love her.