I’ve been in Iowa for the past few days. I flew out here on Wednesday to attend to what I suppose is meant when someone uses the term “family crisis.” My beloved 93-year-old grandmother suffered a stroke a little under two weeks ago and she was aiming to slip from this mortal coil, or so it seemed. She’d been in a great deal of pain and discomfort, with reduced capacity in key areas (can’t walk, can’t swallow, double vision in one eye). She raised her hand for the “no extraordinary measures” option and stopped taking water and food on Monday.
But you know what? My grandmother may be one of the few people I’ll ever know who left a hospice facility alive. She looked like she was fading on Thursday morning, and we were all getting prepared to say goodbye sometime during the coming days or weeks. I was even working on a draft of her obit. Then, in the afternoon, she perked up and began talking about wanting to fight on. From heartbreak to hope in the space of a few hours — Thursday probably ranks up there as one of the worst and best days of my life.
Now she’s out of hospice and back in the hospital rehab unit, taking food and water through a tube, as well as starting to manage food by mouth. She handled her first round of physical therapy yesterday like a trouper. Her sense of humor is intact, as is her fighting spirit. She has lots of hurdles in front of her: first, to learn to swallow, stand and walk so she can get out of the hospital. Next, weeks or months of work in the skilled nursing area of her retirement home. Then, if that goes well, a move over to assisted living. She even has an outside shot at getting back into her apartment.
I am in awe at her ability to survive.
I head back home tomorrow, but will probably make another trip out in May or June to cheer her on (and up).
Since this is a running blog, some obligatory running stuff is in order: I didn’t run for three days post-marathon, which seemed to be the perfect thing to do. On Thursday I did four miles at 10:30 on the motel treadmill, then five miles at 10:00 on Friday. Yesterday the entire exercise room was put out of commission until sometime next week due to a broken door.
So I headed out onto the streets of Cedar Rapids into 20 mph winds (I’m used to it!) and horizontal sleet. It ended up being a fantastic run. I hammered out six miles, despite the wind, for an average of 8:30 per mile. I’m running in my new Saucony Fastwitch 3′s and they are hands down the best running shoes I’ve ever worn. They weigh 6 ounces and make me feel like Gete Wami. Finished up the run at 7:50 (the tailwind helped on the way back), pleasantly relaxed and ready for the whatever the day had in store, which was good news all around, as it turned out.
I love running here. Cornfields, sky and flatness yield expansive vistas like this. The city is more or less a grid, with lots of major avenues, so it’s difficult for even me to get lost. And I rarely see other runners, so I get to feel like a local curiosity for an hour or so.
The weather is similar today (actually, colder at 20 degrees with the windchill), but I’ll head out for the same run in a few minutes.