Last week after talking to mom on the phone and hearing the anxiety and worry in her voice about the situation with my grandpa I knew I had to be there. I packed up and Anni and I took the train down to St. Louis. It has been really hard on my mom since my grandpa fell and broke his back in December. She is an only child and caring for them and making all tough decisions by herself is taking a toll on her. My grandpa decided to have a risky surgery because he is in so much pain and the doctors told him it would only get worse and possible paralyze him. I cannot say I blame him, I would choose a shot at a better life over the rest of my life filled with pain even if it carried a heavy risk.
After a late night decision and some quick packing Anni and I were off. After a surprisingly painless 5 hour train ride there (Anni played with a little girl named Valerie for about 3 hours)
Later that day we headed to the hospital to visit Grandpa before his surgery the next morning and Anni managed to steal some of Grandpa’s cherry pie.
The next day was Grandpa’s surgery and we went to the hospital and waited (I was armed with enough snacks to feed a small village in Africa and as many toys, books, etc as would fit in a backpack). Hospital waiting rooms are such strange places. Everyone is waiting but it is the sort of waiting that is uncomfortable, desperate even. You try to make small talk, watch the blurry TV in the corner, thumb through a two month old magazine while still knowing that you are waiting for that phone to ring, that doctor to appear and change the course of not just your day and life but your dear one’s life. Having Anni there was both difficult (keeping her entertained-my mom and an etch-a-sketch, the elevator and the fountain the lobby helped!)
and renewing (there is something hopeful about an energy filled toddler who can’t be contained). We waited and waited and finally a doctor came in and asked for the Kunneman family to “step outside.” Now I am sure this is customary and maybe it is my fault for watching too many ER episodes but we all felt incredibly nervous as we helped Grandma who was visibly shaken into the hallway. The doctor had great news! He said a bunch of medical stuff about the actual surgery that did not even register to us as all we heard was that he did better than expected and that he was a “tough old bird.” That is my Grandpa!! We thanked God right there in the hallway and Anni lifted her hands in the air for a big AMEN! My mom then took Annikah home so Anni could take a real nap and I could pack as we were heading out on the train at around 3:30pm as the Amtrak tickets were sold out for Friday. My grandma stayed at the hospital awaiting my grandpa’s groggy wake-up.
The train ride home was long, I think mostly because it had been a mentally and emotionally exhausting few days. Annikah was great, no crying, meltdowns, or tantrums but no sleep either. She loved the train and was far too interested in everything and everyone (especially a good looking guy heading to Chicago to visit his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day- this did not deter Anni from flirting). I even brought her PJ’s in hopes of tricking her into sleeping but she was having none of it and stayed up until 10pm that night. When we pulled into the Chicago station and packed up many passengers around us even applauded for Anni saying she was “delightful” and such a “great baby”; of course I agree!
My grandpa is still recovering and will be for a time but from speaking with him and my mom he does have a new sense of hope that he will get better. He is having some worrisome hallucinations but was able to walk around a bit (pretty good for an 86 year old who just had 8 vertebrate fused) and will hopefully be transferred to a rehabilitation facility tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone who was so understanding and gracious about me cancelling everything last minute and to all those who prayed; God hears us and He is good!!