So, perhaps elective surgery at age 97 isn't such a good idea. My grandmother died this morning. She came through the surgery just fine, but the day before she was to be transferred to the rehab unit, she picked up an infection. It was the hospital itself that wasn't healthy for her. She was treated for that infection, and while waiting for a new bed to open at the rehab, picked up a new and different infection. And so it went. She would heal from one thing, and the doctors, erring on the side of "caution" would hold her for a day or two before releasing her. Just long enough for her to pick up something else.
We went and visited her last week. She just talked about how she wanted to get out of the hospital and get on with things. It was decided by my aunts to bring her home and get her 24 hour care, that that would be healthier for her. The idea made her much happier, too. She missed her home and her things and most of all, her dog. Once she was healthy, she would then enter the rehab and learn how to use the new knee. But finding that kind of 24 hour care of the quality required took some time. When I spoke to her a couple of days ago, she told me that she was tired of waiting, that it was time to leave. She pointed out that if things had gone according to plan, she would have been finished with the rehab and been back home by now. "Its time to leave" she said, using the name for me that no one else used (well, my mother used that name for me, too). I knew what she meant.
My grandmother was a determined and decisive woman. She had lived a long life, and had much joy, and much pain, too. She decided on having the surgery so that her life might be worth living. At age 97, illness and permanent incapacity was simply not an acceptable alternative to death. As she once said to me (and I think I was the only one of her descendants that she would talk to about such things) "there are worse things than dying; especially at this point."
The doctors, the hospital, much of the family wanted what they thought best for her. She just wanted out. So, last night she went to sleep, and at approximately 5am this morning, she got to leave the hospital-her way.