I was at my Nana's apartment this weekend taking care of her while my mom was enjoying some much needed respite from her duties as health advocate and care giver for Concetta Sturniolo.
Nana was diagnosed with cancer last November and at that time had the tumor (on her bladder) cauterized to slow down the onset of the cancer. In the past few weeks the tumor has been acting up again and she had to have it cauterized again, as well as have a neprastomy because the tumor is blocking her ureter and she isn't able to urinate.
Having a neprastomy involves an incision being made in the patient's side and a stint (or drainage tube) being inserted into the kidney so urine can run directly from the kidney into a bag that is attached to the leg. Coincidentally, having had this procedure likens my Nana's situation to my Pop's- Pop had had colon cancer in the 70's and spent nearly 30 years with a bag attached to his body. In a way, I think my Nana feels closer to my Pop now - it's almost like there is a small part of her that is accepting her fate a little more easily because she knew that having a bag was something Pop had experienced, and this makes her feel a little closer to her best friend who died four years ago.
On Saturday my cousins Christina and Michelle, and Michelle's husband Stanley visited from CT and NYC (respectively) and when asked how she was doing upon their arrival Nana said (with a wry look, a lowered brow, and out the corner of her mouth): "I stink on ice!"
Nana has always had a great sense of humor- it's dark and hilarious and she's not shy about letting a person know how she feels. She and I always spend some amount of time talking about how she might best go about jumping off the balcony of her apartment.
When my Pop got really sick in 1997 I became his caregiver for a while- I did everything- I bathed him, I fed him, I changed the bag. I did, saw and experienced things that inverted my ideas of what it was to be a grandchild. I wasn't asking of him, he was asking of me, and all of a sudden, with his big hands in mine, trimming his toenails or cutting his hair I realized that suddenly I was an adult. That happened again this weekend.