By about 11:30PM, I had sobered up and we were done with everything we could get done. Ken and I got in our cars to drive to the hotel, something I was supposed to have done about 9 hours earlier. However, as we were about to leave for the hotel, we realized that we didn’t have the address to the hotel. Oops. After we left the venue and were able to get a cell signal, we looked up the address on our iPhones. But when we entered the addresses into the GPS, neither my portable GPS nor Ken’s built-in GPS could locate the address. Great. We pulled over in a shopping center to confer (since we were driving separate cars) and to enter in some different addresses. I had a very general idea of where the hotel was located, so I just told Ken to follow me. And since the Google Maps app on our phone had the address, I just used that as a less-than-ideal navigation system. Nearly 11PM the night before our wedding, and we’re navigating our way to the hotel using Google Maps on our phone. We later found out that the hotel is very new, and was built on a new road. That’s why we couldn’t find it!
We made it to the hotel. Finally.
We took all our stuff upstairs on a bellhop cart. Luckily my wedding dresses still looked fresh and steamed, despite sitting in the car all day. We kept a bellhop cart in the room overnight as a way to hang my wedding dress from something higher than the closet rod. Although we kept waiting for the front desk staff to call our room and ask us to return the bellhop cart.
I found some quarters in my car so that we could wash our mildew-ridden photobooth backdrop fabrics we had discovered earlier in the day. Luckily my sister had packed a small baggie of laundry detergent so she brought that to our room. I put the backdrops in the washing machine on the third floor and went back to our hotel room. We set an alarm for 30 minutes, when the washer would be complete, because we were so exhausted and worried that we would fall asleep.
I wanted to paint my nails, but I was just too exhausted. I really, really didn’t want to do it in the morning, but I was too tired to do anything else. I quickly sent an e-mail to the photographer, florist, and hair stylist, which were the vendors that would be coming to the hotel. I let them know about the address and GPS situation, and gave them the address of the nearest major intersection so that, if their GPS could not locate the hotel either, then they could just use the intersection address.
We were laying in bed talking about the day and trying not to fall asleep so that we could finish the laundry. (Much of the next few paragraphs are a repeat from this post, written the morning of my wedding, just with additional details).
Suddenly, there was a knock on our door. A frantic knock. I asked “Who is it.” My dad replied that it was him.
I opened the door and the look on his face told me that whatever he was about to say was not good.
“Grammy fell, we need your help getting her up.”
I had a few emotional reactions which all happened in rapid succession.
1) Oh goodness, she fell!
2) Wait, we can’t help her up, we might hurt her even more or hurt ourselves. Did you call 911?
3) Why did you come all the way down here to tell me instead of just calling? (they were 2 floors up)
4) Then, silent anger over the fact that they had checked her out of the hospital a few hours earlier.
We followed my dad onto the elevator and up two floors to the room where he, my mom, and grandmother were staying. As we walked down the 4th floor hallway, I commented to Ken how I thought I was dreaming. You know, those dreams you have where the SAME thing keeps going wrong no matter what you did to fix it.
I will be honest here. My thoughts as I ran up to their room were mostly selfish thoughts and not thoughts of worry. As I sit here (5 days post-wedding that I’m actually drafting this recap), I feel a lot of guilt about that.
I had no idea what condition my grandmother was going to be in when I walked into that room, yet the thoughts of worry were secondary to the thoughts of “Why does this have to happen to me the NIGHT BEFORE MY WEDDING?” All I could think about was how I was mad that I wouldn’t be getting a good night’s sleep the night before my wedding. And how furious I was with my family for checking her out of the hospital earlier in the day. And how furious I was with my sister for not convincing them otherwise. And furious with myself for not taking the damn phone myself to convince them that she should not, under any circumstances, be checked out of the hospital.
As we walked into their hotel room, we were overcome by the odor of feces and there was a large stain on the bed. My grandmother was on the floor in the bathroom. She was not laying down, but my sister was keeping her back propped up by holding her up in a sitting position. The best we could figure out was that my grandmother had messed the bed and tried to make it to the bathroom and fell either while trying to sit down on or stand up from the toilet. My mom said that it looked like she may have been trying to clean herself up in the bathroom.
This entire situation was very surreal. Until that day, November 10, my grandmother was in perfectly fine health. Of course, she had some elderly ailments like being hard of hearing and some more recent trouble with her vision, but she could move around, stand up, and even walk quickly. She lives by herself and goes up and down the basement stairs regularly to do her laundry. So, to see her on the floor for the second time that day, looking so weak and vulnerable, I almost pitied her. Here she was, not feeling well, and it was evident that she had been trying to clean herself up to avoid embarrassment.
I was quickly snapped out of the surrealness of the moment. My sister was yelling at me to stand behind my grandmother to keep her propped up. I didn’t know what to do! I had this unreasonable fear of my sister and I transferring her weight and that my grandmother would fall backwards and hit her head. So I said no, I would not help keep her propped up. My sister looked upset, but I just kept saying no and was getting upset myself that she was asking me to do it.
I wish I could convey the emotion in that room at that moment. I can’t even begin to describe it. My mom was visibly upset at seeing her own mother in such poor health at that moment. I was yelling at everyone, saying, “WHY DID YOU CHECK HER OUT OF THE HOSPITAL?” and “I BEGGED YOU TO LEAVE HER IN THE HOSPITAL.” My dad started to get visibly upset too. Ken was standing in the hallway because he was so overcome by the smell of feces. Even though he wasn’t engaging in any of the arguments, I could tell he was mad at my family too.
Thinking back to just a few hours earlier when my parents were absent from the rehearsal, I started to have more selfish thoughts. I started to envision my parents absent from my actual wedding day or having to delay the start of the wedding because they were still at the hospital because of my grandmother. I told my mom and dad, “I NEED you at the wedding tomorrow. I NEED you to be there at 3PM when I walk down the aisle.”
My sister had left the bathroom and started out the hotel room window for the ambulance. She said that it was there, so Ken and I left the room to go meet them in the lobby. I was absolutely fuming with anger. We went back up to the hotel room with the EMS personnel. Ken and I sat on the floor in the hallway. There was at least one EMS person in the hotel room with my grandmother, mom, dad, and sister, and there were another two EMS personnel in the hallway waiting with the stretcher.
The conversation we were hearing inside that room was just like earlier that day. My grandmother refusing to go to the hospital, and the EMS personnel doing a combination of trying to convince her to go, at the same time getting some history from my mom. I heard my mom say, “My mother is 86 and lives by herself in a two-story home. She has NEVER fallen, and this is the second time today.”
At some point during the day, we had learned that having a power of attorney over someone does not mean you can commit them to medical care as long as they are lucid. I heard my mom bring up the power of attorney issue, and Ken and I started to talk about it in the hallway. The other two EMS personnel in the hallway overheard us, and said sometimes they can contact the patient’s regular physician and they can force the patient against their will to go to the hospital, at least for a short amount of time, if the physician gives the okay. I was really relieved at hearing that.
My grandmother kept saying things like, “I’m not going, leave me here.” I wanted to march in there and say, “Well fine, then you’re going to die on this bathroom floor because clearly you can’t get up.” It was me being mean to her earlier that finally convinced her she should see a doctor. Maybe if I was mean to her again, it would snap her out of her stubborn streak. It’s weird. I think I have a lot more in common with my grandmother than I would like to admit.
But, I didn’t go in and yell at her.
In a brief moment of hilarity, my grandmother, who sounded really out of it, kept shouting, in long-drawn out words, “I need a DRINK.” It sounded like she was drunk. I think the EMS personnel might have thought she was drunk too. I could hear them ask my mom, “Does she drink often?” My mom, clearly flabbergasted since my grandmother has probably never drank even a sip of alcohol, said “NO! She means water. She’s thirsty!”
My grandmother finally agreed to go to the hospital. The EMS personnel in the hallway readied the stretcher and rolled it into the room. The EMS personnel told my parents that my grandmother would be at the same hospital that she was at earlier that day.
I rode in the elevator downstairs with my grandmother and the EMS personnel. I looked at my grandmother, who was clearly out of it, and I said, “Gram, do you know what tomorrow is?!” She didn’t answer. “It’s my wedding day!” I said. She looked unimpressed. Even when sick, my grandmother was the same cantankerous woman as usual.
I went back up to my parent’s hotel room. My mom and sister were going to the hospital and my dad would stay behind so he could get some sleep. But since their room smelled so badly, my sister gave her hotel room key to my dad, and told him to go there to sleep. And she would request a new hotel room for them in the morning.
Ken and I walked back downstairs to our hotel room.
I could not believe what had just transpired. I didn’t even know what to say. Neither did Ken.
We walked back upstairs to check the laundry so that we could put the photobooth backdrop fabric in the dryer. We had timed it perfectly. When we got in there, a guy was just taking his laundry out of the dryer. We took the fabric out of the washer, put it in the dryer, and put the quarters in the machine.
We went back to our room. It was time to go to sleep. We turned off the lights. But despite how tired and drowsy I had been just about an hour earlier when we first got to the hotel, I was wide awake. I’m typically such a sound sleeper and can fall asleep so easily. Not tonight.
After a while, I could tell that Ken had fallen asleep. I really wanted to have some wine to help me relax and hopefully fall asleep, but I had no idea where it was. In fact, I didn’t even remember seeing it yet at the hotel, even though I knew I had packed it in the car when I left the house earlier that day.
At some point, I think I fell asleep for about 90 minutes.
Next week, I will start posting about the actual wedding day itself!