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Back in December, I wrote a little about the situation with my Nan being in hospital back in Calgary. The situation was that she’d dislocated her shoulder a number of years ago, and the hospital cocked up the surgery, rendering her arm unusable forever. She spent years trying to get by with the use of only one arm, and as she got older, started having these falls. She lives by herself in a 2-storey house halfway across the planet, and my dad and I feel so useless. Every day holds constant worry about her safety, and prayer for her protection. What would happen if she fell, and couldn’t get up to call anyone? Well, in December, that happened. She fell, injuring her other shoulder, and ended up in hospital right before Christmas. My aunts and uncles weren’t in touch with her, my dad and I didn’t have their numbers, and she was alone, no visitors, until Christmas, when a good friend of mine went up on Christmas Day and absolutely made her day.

But the situation worsened. Her blood pressure and potassium levels dropped drastically, so she was moved from the rehabilitation hospital into the general hospital – the one that had caused her disability in the first place. They scheduled surgery on her other, functional (but injured) shoulder, for this past Monday, the day Sweet and I were away. I worried the whole day, and returned to a phone call from my dad, saying over the weekend he’d heard from his stepsister that Nan had been pretty scared all weekend. She was worried they were going to screw up her other shoulder – and if that happened, she’d never be able to look after herself again. She was scared too because 13 years ago her husband had gone into hospital for surgery – and never came out. And she was alone.

As my dad told me they’d postponed the surgery (her blood pressure was too low), I held my breath in a desperate effort to hold back the tears. My Nan had basically raised me – as a child, my dad was working while my mum was in school, and I spent every day at her house, learning to bake, watching TV, making tea and crafts, and helping with her aviary full of budgies and quails. I adored the little budgie we brought inside to keep, and Sparky lasted a good 8 years, every day calling out in Nan’s voice “cuppa tea, darling”, “where’s Emily”, and “who’s a good boy, boy, boy”. So many years of joy were spent with my Nan, and it breaks my heart to think of her now, scared and alone in the world.

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My dad decided to fly over to England. He left yesterday, and I had an email this morning saying he’d arrived, and been to visit:

I have just come back from seeing Nan and, as you can imagine, she was overwhelmed.
She is not looking good and her memory is worse than last year but she is much the same as she was. She had some tears about dying and I had a very compassionate and serious conversation with her about coming out and maybe not being in the house. All very tearful but it ended very well. More updates tomorrow.

Dad

My heart breaks at being stuck over there, completely useless to the woman who practically raised me and I love so dearly, in her time of need. I’m glad my dad can be with her right now, and all I can do is pray for her. That the surgery goes well and she comes out healed – but even if this is the case, she may still have falls, and the “talk” was one referring to the possibility of going into a care home. If the surgery goes wrong like it did before, it would be the end of her ability to look after herself or do any of the things she takes joy in. And the worst-case scenario – well, I can’t even bear to think about it.

If you could spare a moment today, for a thought or a prayer sent my Nan’s way, it would mean the world. There’s only so much I can do from so far away, and right now I’m finding the situation pretty tough on top of my potential layoff in a few weeks. I’m sorry to bring such a downer to your eyes this morning. But you guys have always been here for me, and I thank you as ever for listening, and for your compassion.