Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Granny-sitting Chronicles: an Epic Tale of ... well, it's pretty epic. Or something. I think.

The background.

My grand aunt has always been very active and perky, enviably so. For years she'd been following a series of subroutines: bus to town, standard market round, bus to our place, candy for the kids plus news exchange, bus back to the centre, next bus to countryside, carry the goodies home, all set by the time for the evening soaps session. Eventually it became apparent that it were these very subroutines that kept her going and not necessarily with deliberate conscious input. It seemed, the gradual degradation had actually been going on for a while and suddenly became visible in a few critical leaps. When the bus arrangements changed, she stopped going to town; when digital broadcast gadgets were no longer optional she stopped watching TV; eventually she stopped pretty much all activity. When a mid-winter "relative watch" revealed she'd pretty much stopped eating (while diligently keeping up some hypertension medicine consumption) and could no longer relate to her surroundings in a meaningful way, they took her to  the local hospital for a while, then brought to the spare room in my parents' home.

She still didn't do much or talk much. Most of her wits and memory seemed to have left the building while she hung on to a few pieces of key information by ritually counting up the relatives, "her people", in two photographs. I didn't do much then, merely stopping by most days to take part in the photo ritual and sometimes take care of lunch and medicine time. I did try to add some subtle stimuli into the environment though. Scattered colourful books around the room and taped a bunch of translucent beaded chains to the window.

The kind of arrangement that I'm in now, would never have occurred to me as a viable option at the time. Indeed, I have neither the skill not the penchant for full-scale nursing. Later on, when my involvement grew and various kinds of improvements ensued, the vague idea did occur - to be immediately discarded as unrealistic. Namely, I "knew" that my ability to help out was made possible by the comfort of city life, complete with long hot showers and stable cable internet.

By that time my input had become quite considerable indeed. At some point I had taken over the "sauna watch". As the days grew longer and the stubborn snow receded, we managed to drag her out for some fresh air. Soon after the trips outdoors became welcome, then an inevitability. Eventually I'd be spending nearly half of my day "grannysitting".

The Preparations

The decision struck me by surprise one morning. Sure, she'd been inquiring abut going home almost from the start; and I'd occasionally entertained the what-if possibility to carry on what I'd been doing for the past months in a different location, adding more fresh air and physical activity in the mix. Still, I managed to catch myself off guard with the sudden sense of preparedness. I hadn't even visited the place too many times in the last decade and the last time I had stayed overnight had been in grade school.

Then again, the actual preparations took long enough to get well used to the idea.


It took nearly a month of scrubbing and scrapping to get the "expedition headquarters" into even remotely operational condition. Not to mention the planning and communications.

And then, all of a sudden we could plan and prepare no longer. The Midsummer was just a few days ahead and the Epic Grannysitting Expedition had begun.

Stay tuned for the next episode where we thwart the local flora (with scythe) and fauna (with tulle and duct tape), and significantly improve life quality with a simple Styrofoam installment. 

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