'Just as I had figured out my retirement routine, life interrupted'

"After the interruption is over, things will slowly slip back into routine."

It was the beginning of another busy week for this grandma. Now happily settling into retirement with a bit of a routine to keep me on my toes, I had a full calendar for the following days. My volunteer work, my part time job, my reading, writing and walking and catching up with friends, but all of this came to a standstill when my twelve year old grandson was admitted to hospital with an infection he’d gotten through scratching some mozzie bites.

What we though would be an overnight stay stretched into nearly two weeks as the right antibiotic had to be found and many tests had to be performed as the infection was difficult to identify. What made it particularly challenging was that his mum (my daughter) has two small children who need their mum. Dad was busy at work, so the majority of the day time watch was turned over to Nanny.

We all ‘tag-teamed’ to make sure he had company. And it was then that I realised just how much our lives can be interrupted. Here we were, all getting on with our busy lives and suddenly everything changes. A child needs an adult present, and it was easiest for me to be there most of the time to talk to doctors, accompany him for ultrasounds and to keep him from getting too bored, and also to try to get him to eat the hospital food – a lost cause.

I love my little buddy Noah; he is my first grandchild and we’ve had twelve years to become friends. Ironically, over the school holidays I tried to get some time with him, but he was far too busy with his friends. I had to then smile when he ended up being my captive audience. As he lay there in his bed, attached to a drip, bored, watching endless cartoons and playing on his iPod, I remembered another period of time when I was again a captive audience in a hospital.

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In 2002 my older sister had an aneurysm and lay dying in hospital. Having already buried my dad, I thought I was an old hand at the dying thing. Again, life interrupted. I’m at work and then I get a phone call. My sister had collapsed and was in a coma. As she was single, my younger sister and I held a vigil at her bedside. The world outside was not our world anymore. Instead, beeping machines that breathed and fed were our constant company. As she lay dying, her blue eyes were wide open and gazing unseeingly at the world beyond my shoulder. We read to her, played music and told her jokes but she never laughed.

What was really sad was the fact that we had fallen out weeks before and I had no chance to make this right. It was a very long goodbye.

Sue never left the hospital alive, but thankfully my little Noah has, and is recovering back at home with his family. Once again I felt true appreciation for what the doctors and nurses do, often going beyond the call of duty. When we couldn’t stay the night with him sometimes, nurses would take the time to just hang out with him and keep him company.

Life has gone back to normal this week; I got in a walk before my job this afternoon and I’m ready to go to my volunteer work in the morning. Life interrupted. Sometimes we have to just drop what we are doing when those we love need us and just go with the flow, knowing that after the interruption is over, things will slowly slip back into routine.

Have you had a time recently where your regular life routine was interrupted unexpectedly?