Monday, October 29, 2007

Passing away

Yesterday evening, my grandmother passed away...

The whole family had been expecting this event for some time. My grandmother had two strokes in quick succession in 1999, just before I entered medical school. The strokes themselves were not unexpected either. According to my mother she had diabetes mellitus and had poor compliance to her medication. During one of her follow-up visits she had a carotid bruit so obvious the doctor in the clinic told the medical students attending to listen to it.

Since those two strokes she's been in a vegetative state. That's over eight years. She's been living in a nursing home and just goes into hospital when there is something wrong. Every time my family wants the condition to be fatal so she can pass on and end the suffering, not just for her but for the rest of the family. This time their wish came true.

To be honest I didn't know my grandmother that well and I wasn't that close to her but I wish I were. She was very nice to me and to all her grandchildren when we visited her in her flat in Sheung Shui. In the end when my mother told me my grandmother had been admitted into hospital and this could be the time, I didn't want to go see her. Partially because I didn't want know what to say but really because of myself. As a depressive we are constantly warned to decrease the stresses in our lives, which include employment and relationship issues but also includes death. I didn't know how I would react to seeing my grandmother lying in a hospital with all the tubes and drips surrounding her. I didn't want a depressive episode coming again so soon after receiving other bad news about my test results. I feel guilty about that decision but I eventually I did go to see her in the evening and say my final farewell.

Right now I don't know how I feel. A lot of the time I feel apathetic - I don't have any feelings at all - and that worries me. I worry that I have had depression for so long my feelings are worn out and I can't feel anything. I have been noticing it lately when meeting patients in the wards, especially toward psychiatric patients who I should respond to. Most of the time I couldn't care less about people - class peers, patients, family, friends, even myself.

It's a constant feeling of emptiness...

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