Today’s writing prompt was “I’m thinking of…” I sat down to write after checking my email this afternoon and here’s what came this time:
I’m thinking of my grandfather. I just read an email from my mom explaining that his hemoglobin count was too high. Apparently that means he has too many red blood cells, or more basically, too much blood in his body. He may have a tumor, but no one knows yet for sure. It seems some tumors create extra blood in your body. Bad news – bad health news – has come in torrents this year. It defies understanding. My mother had a stroke on New Year’s Eve. She’s 56. My uncle was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer a couple months later. He’s also 56. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety in between. My nephew’s father died in a car crash in April, on my nephew’s birthday. My niece had to have a piece of her heart frozen with some sort of cryo technology that brings the temperature of the tissue to -72 degrees F. That was to kill some of her heart because it had two electrical spots that prompted it to beat. When the second spot kicked in, her heart went into overdrive, beating as high as 300 beats per minute. Now my grandfather has an unknown “something that doesn’t look right” near his stomach, according to a doctor’s interpretation of a CAT scan. It just never ends. He has had so many medical challenges to face in his life. It took doctors a year to determine his body had stopped producing the enzymes it needed to digest food 20 years ago. He lost more than 80 pounds in a year without changing the way he ate or exercised and it was all a big mystery for a long time. They performed exploratory surgery on him back then in an attempt to figure out why he was vanishing. They found his gallbladder needed to be removed, though he never complained of what doctors said should have been excruciating pain. He is a borderline diabetic that had quadruple bypass surgery 15 years ago. He has a wheat gluten allergy and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a few years ago. He has pushed through all these challenges and seems stoic through it all, but I can somehow sense that he’s scared – scared of dying. I know he won’t be able to last many more years. He’s approaching 80, and that’s very old for men in his family. I don’t feel the emotion of his impending death as I write about this now, but I often do when I think about it. He’s always been the most important person in my life and I dread the day he leaves us. Sometimes it feels like it will kill me, too.
I write about my grandfather a lot in my memoir. I have dedicated probably 4 or 5 chapters to various things he’s taught or shared with me throughout my life. I will post a few stories about what we’ve shared next in honor of my thinking of him today.