Archive | May, 2015

He Always Was a Mouth Breather

30 May

So if anyone has followed my series of unfortunate events, I finally graduated out of the teenage angst stage and made it to what seems like a much shittier stage that i’d like to call the “piss-poor-less-fun-and-much-more-angsty” stage. Let’s also ignore the fact that I haven’t even touched this part of the interwebs since September. Yeah, I fell off the beaten path. And to be honest, I’m not even too keen on doing some big huge inspirational post. I think this one is just going to be a really informational post about my life since, well, September. That is, if I can concentrate because David is blaring music right now and I’m not sure if I can concentrate while Tech N9ne is depicting murdering his psycho bitch and her boy toy.

So, I moved out of Minnesota on August 8th of 2014 and got to Kentucky on August 9th. I moved down for two reasons, but I ended up finding my purpose once all was said and done. The original plan was to come down to the state of Kentucky and gain residency so I could go to college at WKU and pursue my hopes and dreams of going to WKU and pursuing a degree and competing for the world-renown forensics team. For lack of a better term, my grandfather was also “coincidentally” terminally ill with stage four pancreatic cancer. So the plan was to take care of my Pop and help my Granny while they were gracious enough to let me stay in their home for the year to gain residency. It was kind of a sporadic plan, to be honest. I turned 18 on July 26th of 2014 and was moved out in less than a month. That decision was made in part by a woman that shaped my life in a really short amount of time, but she ultimately got me out of the hell hole that I had called “living”. The morning of the 8th, I literally packed up my car with every belonging I could possibly take with and actually, it was all the belongings I had. I remember that whole week was fucking shitty, too. I couldn’t manage to hold a conversation with my parents without some sort of fight erupting. I’m pretty sure I went and got wasted more or less that whole week, too. (If you’re reading this mom and dad, I’m sorry. I owe you a bottle of makers mark…or a few) It wasn’t even that I didn’t want to move, that wasn’t it. I didn’t have my life together to where I wanted it before I left. I didn’t say goodbye to half the people I wanted to…Or people didn’t want to say goodbye to me. The night before I left, I was laying next to my mother (because my bed was covered in my things) and texting the guy that had me wrapped around his finger for a few years. Do you know what it’s like to beg and plead someone to say goodbye to you and let you get closure and them decide to tell you the night before you trek 900 miles across the country every reason why they hate you? Ask me about it sometime. It’s a fucking phenomenal story actually. So 3am came to approach and before I knew it my alarm went off to leave that morning.

900 miles is a long, long drive by yourself. But thank the Lord sweet baby Jesus for aux cords. I left that morning and said goodbye to my family and to be completely honest, I lost my fucking shit. I did one of those really psychotic slow drive-bys around my town (which actually ended up to be like, four rights and a stoplight). I think the only reason I did it was because I contemplating shitting on everyone’s porch who fucked me over before I left. HA. I would have had to shit on everyone’s porch. But, I finally made it out of town, got my shit together enough to see the road and just kept driving. Was it an easy drive? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Alone? Debatable. But to be honest, I think that drive was supposed to prepare me for what I was getting myself into. I think I was ready to move out and it was long overdue, but I don’t know if I was ready to face the reality of what I was coming into. I mean it’s one thing for a kid straight out of high school to move out, but to move 900 miles from home with everything in your car was another. But after 900 miles and like, two pee breaks, I finally made it. And at first, it was really shitty. I didn’t know anyone and had to adjust to having little to no cell phone service and no internet. When you live in the middle of bum fuck Egypt in a town that’s half Amish, you have to make some adjustments. But, I soon adjusted. I found my first job within the first week of living there and picked up my second job about a month later. My life consisted of working between 30 and 60 hours a week depending on my schedules and caring for a terminally ill man. If I thought I knew what physical and mental exhaustion was before, I definitely knew what it was now.

I was pretty shitty at balancing my life at first, I’ll admit. My days generally went with me working double shifts almost every day, staying out really late into the early morning and waking up a few hours later to do it all over again. In between that, I had to go along to every doctor appointment and chemo treatment as well as picking up prescriptions and trying to make sure my Pop ate and got to the bathroom. If you ever learn to appreciate life’s simple things, you learn to do so when you watch someone in their finals days. I had worked in a nursing home before, but I think it’s ten times harder to care for someone when they’re your own blood. I’m still really emotionally tore up about it to be honest and I’m okay with that because the feelings I still carry from it ground me. God puts you in the right place at the right time and I’ve never been a super religious person, but watching someone die does that to you. Life is a really, really beautiful thing and it’s really, really fucking frail. Towards the beginning my Pop was alright. He was over 6 feet and 130 pounds, which was a lot of weight for what he normally was used to. He drank at least a glass of milk a day and ate at least half of a meal. He was still walking around with just a cane and he could barely get to the bathroom on his own, but it was possible. Obviously, he digressed. If I’ve ever known a stronger man, it was him. He battled stage four pancreatic cancer for over two years. Look up stage four pancreatic cancer and then try to tell me two years isn’t a long time. To be honest, I don’t know how he did it. Pancreatic cancer is extremely treatable if found early, but it rarely is caught before it’s too late. Pancreatic cancer in its late stages is one of the most aggressive and debilitating forms of cancer known and my Pop fought it like badass. Like a really southern, tobacco chewing badass.

Do you know what it’s like to try to predict when someone is gonna die? It’s like trying to predict if your shit is gonna give you hemorrhoids; you know that it’s going to happen eventually, you just don’t know if this time is that time. My job wasn’t job 24 hour nurse, it was also errand runner and caretaker and shoulder to cry on and apparently grim reaper. See, at the same time that my Pop was ill, so was his sister. My day went from leaving for work at 8am, working til 3 and having an hour in between my next shift until 9, then heading over to the hospital to check on either my Pop or his sister depending on what time period it was. From there I’d stay for a few hours  making sure the nurses kept on their shit and then driving half an hour to get home and having a few hours until I wake up and do it again. Did I wish things were different? Yeah. But would I actually change any of it? No. The end started when my Pop finally stopped eating or drinking on his own. I remember leaving for work one morning and telling him that if he didn’t drink anything while I was gone, I was taking him to the hospital whether he liked it or not. I got home from my regular 8 hour shift at one job and he was sitting in his chair almost unresponsive. He had become almost completely incontinent and it was to the point where my Granny wasn’t able to help him anymore. And to be honest, I was barely able to lift him myself. We had our neighbor who was a sheriff escort us with lights into town to the hospital and got us into a room as fast as we could. Pop weighed in at 113 pounds and had a blood sugar left of 98. Although I gave him an insulin shot that morning, his body consumed all of it just by simple body movements. To have a nurse tell you that if you wouldn’t have pushed to get him to the hospital at that moment that he wouldn’t have made it through the night, it really puts trusting your gut into perspective. He stayed in the hospital for a few days, just enough to get him more fluids and regain his appetite. The doctors decided to stop his chemo because he wasn’t physically stable enough for it. To be honest, it all kinda blurred. I don’t think I got any sleep for a few weeks straight. At that point I didn’t have many friends because I was so consumed with working and taking care of Pop.

My Pop was checking into the hospital for the final time on September 22nd, 2014. It was a miserable time, I’m not even going to try to bullshit around that. I woke up, went to work, got off, went to the hospital and stayed until he fell asleep. Being that I was his primary caretaker, I was on the nurses list of “people to update in the event of emergency”. I could call at anytime and get updates on him and on almost every single lunch break, you best believe that’s what I was doing. The last few days in the hospital weren’t even coherent. He was so doped up on pain medication that he rarely recognized faces. Generally, he hit on all the nurses and tried any type of flirtatious advance he could. At this point, he didn’t even remember what year it was. Thursday of that week, he was discharged from the hospital into hospice. Hospice is just a really fancy way of saying “being sent home to die ‘peacefully'”. I actually didn’t know he was going home to hospice. I went to work one morning like I normally did and came home to a hospital bed in my living room. Try telling me that having a hospital room, respirator and oxygen tank in your living room makes for a good time to watch Survivor. Remember how I said I was the one who was ultimately supposed to predict his death? I was left to decide when my family from Minnesota was supposed to come down for his final moments. Predicting death is really shitty. My Dad came in from Minnesota at 5 o’clock on that Friday and drove all night to make sure he was down to see my Pop.

Pop passed away in his sleep on September 27th early in the morning, around 5am. My Dad came in and woke me up and all he said was “Bella” and looked at me in the dark. No words were needed. I knew exactly what it was. For the few days he was on hospice, I didn’t get more than an hour of sleep each night. He woke up every hour to go to the bathroom and couldn’t go on his own and my grandma wasn’t strong enough to help him by herself. I think I got even less sleep after that. I went to the living room and he was laying there so, so peacefully. His eyes were open still and he was still warm. My Uncle isn’t normally a crier, and he cried harder than I did. I think it finally hit my Dad that my Pop was waiting for him to come down just so he could finally go. My dad got less than 12 hours with him, but I think it didn’t take my Pop 12 hours to say goodbye to his son. I honestly believe in my heart that he could have held out for as long as he needed to, just so he could say goodbye to my Dad. And it’s not that he couldn’t wait long enough to say goodbye to my brother or my sister, but I think he had just enough in him to wait for my Dad. That morning was by far one of the most emotionally damaging points in my life besides his funeral. See, the process with hospice is that you have to call the people in charge of hospice and let them know that your loved one has passed. Then they send the hospice nurse out, then they send out another nurse and finally, they send out the coroner and the funeral services to come pick up the body. What’s even worse is that hospice needs their shit back, of course. So before the body is even cold, they have to come back and get the bed and the oxygen and the respirator because hey, someone else needs it now.

Cleaning a dead body is really shitty. Cleaning your grandfathers dead body is even shittier. I had the privilege of cleaning his body and preparing him to transition into his final resting spot. Was it ideal and is that the memory I would like to take to my grave? No. But it was humbling. BUT OF COURSE, I had to be awkward and stupid and couldn’t handle the situation without using really terrible humor. As we were moving his neck, his mouth popped open and one of his dentures had fallen from his top gum onto the bottom of his mouth. Of course, the only thing that popped into my mind when the nurse looked at me was “Well, he always was a mouth breather”. Stupid fucking thing to say Bella, stupid thing. And of course, when his eyes wouldn’t slide shut, the ONLY thing I could think of saying was “Well I guess he wants to stay awake”. I feel really bad for the nurse because she didn’t respond to any of my crude jokes the entire time. And to be honest, I’m a really awkward person in emotionally questionable situations. Having your grandfathers dead body in your presence while you give him a sponge bath is what I’d say an emotional situation.

The funeral was probably the second hardest part of the experience. Not only did I bury the man who taught me the most about life in a few short weeks pass away in my living room, my entire family fell apart. That’s an entirely different story that I’m not going to dive into, but to literally have your mother, brother and sister sit behind you in a church and discuss how you are no longer part of the family is a special situation in itself and to be honest, I don’t think it’s a grudge that I’m ever going to let go. My friend Jesus and I are going to discuss it. But needless to say, the entire experience humbled me to no end. I was a nanny and a babysitter for a majority of my childhood and teen years. To be able to say I have cared for life as it entered and as it left the world is something I never thought I’d say so young in life but I do not regret it at all. My Pop taught me how to fight and how to love endlessly. The hardest part of saying goodbye to him was seeing him at his best throughout my childhood and seeing him on his deathbed. To watch a grown man cry out of sheer pain is a sight that I don’t wish upon my worst enemy. My Granny and Pop were married for over 50 years. To watch a person say goodbye to the only person that they’ve known and had by their side for majority of their life is one of the most beautifully tragic things to witness. Love is not getting matching tattoos and doing drugs together. Love is staying with someone in the last moments of their life and watching them take their last breath with you by their side. My grandparents know what love is. I will ALWAYS and CONTINUOUSLY model my relationship after THAT standard of love. I might not be the sharpest tack in the box, but I’ve got life experience to the moon and back.

So 3,000 words later. That’s what I’ve been up to. But fast forward to now, I’ve moved on from that. I now live in a large sitting a few minutes from WKU in an apartment with my boyfriend whom I would not trade for the world. I’d love to go on and brag all about how he is literally the light of my life, but I feel like being in the feels right now and I’ll save the updates on my life currently for later. But, I am out of Granny’s and completely on my own. But that was the jist of my life. Now since then my life has been a completely fuckwhirl of unfortunate events BUT I’m still extremely happy and proud of my life thus far. I feel like not an 18 year old trapped into an 18 year olds body. It blows, actually. But I’m living, happy and healthy. And thank GOD I made it out of the teen angst stage.

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