Just a little thought…
A trip to the Philippines have been planned for almost a year to celebrate my paternal grandmother’s 80th birthday. This grandmother loves to party and a huge celebration is perfect for her. We are so excited to spend my whole winter vacation in the Philippines. For the first time in a long time we finally have a chance to spend Christmas and New Year’s Day in our home country and with my maternal grandmother and grandfather. But we became excited too soon; we are hit with the news of my maternal grandmother’s second stroke. Our long awaited trip to the Philippines for vacation turns into a way to prepare for the worst for my maternal grandmother.
My parents and I finally arrived in the sunny and humid city of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines—the city where many of my extended family live. My uncle picked us up at the airport with a smile from ear to ear. We greeted each other “Hi! How are you?” The air was full of excitement. We even hugged each other so tight that we squeezed the life out of each other.
Then, My mom asked her brother “How’s mama?”
“She’s doing okay,” replied my uncle.
We drove to the house where my uncle, grandparents, and little cousin stay. With an exhausted look, my mom told us to hurry and clean up so we can see my grandmother in the hospital.
We finally arrived at the hospital. We got on the elevator and I did not want to think of what I might see when we open the door to her hospital room. We arrive at her not-so-hospital looking door. Before we entered the room my mom bought masks for me and my dad to use because we were sick and my mom did not want my mom to get sick even more. My grandmother’s hospital room was big. The floors were shiny, there was a small television. There were locked windows. The room was bright with florescent lights. There were wooden benches and small couches on the sides. And the hospital bed had it’s head by the farthest wall with my grandmother lying quietly on it. She arose and saw us. She greeted us with a big smile. She could not say anything but just smiled at us. She knew who we were but she could not communicate her joy in seeing us. She had a cardboard taped to her right arm to keep her from ripping out her IVs on her left arm (which she could not move due to this stroke and the past stroke). Her face was swollen and her bones were prominent on her arms, hands, and fingers. My grandfather was on a chair right next to her, holding her right hand and talking to her. We spent the rest of the day in the hospital until 10pm when my grandfather needed to go home to sleep. He slept just enough to give him energy to wake up at 4am, eager to be with my grandmother again that day. He did that every single day.
My mom would visit my grandmother every day that she could. I would have to take her place and keep mine at the meetings and gatherings that were meant for me and both my parents so she could be with my grandmother.
Eventually the time came when my parents and I had to go back to the U.S. My grandmother has already been in the ICU and out of the ICU. At our last visit to the hospital, I talked to my grandmother more. Her conditioned seemed to have gotten better. She smiled more and responded to things around her more. She would give me high fives and try to hold my hand with her cardboard-taped hand. I kept on telling her with a smile, even while she was in the ICU, “You need to get better, Mama, so I can take care of you. I am going to graduate nursing school soon and I’ll be your personal nurse!” She would just smile and I’d keep on going, now with tears running down my eyes, “Promise me you’ll get better, okay? Just wait until I finish school and I will be here to help you with everything!”
Before going to the Philippines, I would always question why I decided to become a nurse. I would dread every single day I go to clinicals. I would do everything I needed to do during those days without much thought into it. I thought of nursing school as just another step from high school; it is just another thing I needed to do even though I did not really want to. But the trip to the Philippines completely changed my mindset. Seeing my grandmother so sick and with nurses and doctors that were not trained to really see their patients holistically made me want to be that nurse that really does care. I really want to help patients and clients feel and get better.