Three Things Visiting a Sick Loved One Overseas has Taught Me

Three Things Visiting a Sick Loved One Overseas has Taught Me

One of the most helpless moments that I felt for a long time was watching the nurse hook her up to a dialysis machine. At the same time, I felt extremely proud of her to be incredibly resilient throughout the process.

Recently I took some time off work to visit my grandma in China.  Despite only being overseas for 1 week (just 4 days on the ground), it taught me a lot about life.  Due to my grandmother’s health, she was unable to be reunited with her family overseas, so my family, over the years, has taken turns to visit her.

The importance of family:

Like many AU students, I lead a fairly chaotic and busy lifestyle.  I love packing my schedules full and feeling productive almost all the time.  However, this trip has given me more perspective than simply working blindly.  Since the COVID pandemic, I have not had the opportunity to see her.  Her kidney disease progressed to more significant end-stage renal disease that requires frequent dialysis.  Three times a week she would sit next to the dialysis machine in a sanitary room for hours waiting for her blood to be detoxified from waste.  It’s a gruesome process to say the least.  Taking the time to visit her has been extremely rewarding.  Despite the pain and suffering she has undergone, her face lit up when we saw each other in the seniors home.  It really shed light on the fact that moments like these are precious and finite.  Taking the time to visit our loved ones makes an impact on our health and happiness too.

Gratitude of health:

Due to her health, there are many foods that she cannot eat. However, I am thankful that I was able to take her to this supermarket to grab all the snacks she could enjoy.

Witnessing a loved one’s health struggles gave me a deep appreciation of my own finite timeline.  It’s not every day that we have these reminders of mortality.  However, having walked around the entire senior’s home, a sense of grief washed over me imagining the final days lived out in a home similar to this.  It gave me a greater sense of purpose for accomplishing my own dreams.  More importantly, it reminded me that taking care of our body is one of the best investments one can make.  Starting early to improve our mental and physical wellbeing will go a long way to allowing us to lead longer and more fulfilling lives.

My grandma had taken care of me from a young age. When my mother was away for work, she would be my primary caretaker as a child.

Resilience and adaptability:

Despite the daily challenges my grandmother faces, including a recent outbreak of shingles in the seniors home, she has faced life with a lot of optimism.  Some of the struggles that generation faced are hard to put into words.  Through famine and warfare, she lived through some significant events that caused her to mature at an early age.  Her wisdom in life, including facing everything as it comes and taking things one step at a time, has really helped me in my lowest points in life.  There’s no shortages of obstacles in life but certainly facing it with some blind faith will help us make the most of it.  My personality has always tended to be more of the anxious and over-worrying type, but after speaking to her, I felt that if we always face life with this anxiety, we won’t be able to fully enjoy it.  Good or bad, taking things one step at a time has been my new mantra.