Living in the US for the past 3 years makes you forget that rules are not set in stone.

Last week my mom and I had to take a plane to Nicaragua because my grandfather had to go to the Emergency Room and nobody knew what the outcome would be. Luckily, it was a false alarm.

During my week at the hospital, I have seen a series of events occur that would not happen in the US. Since my grandfather is under intensive care, the times that are available for anyone to visit him are very limited – except for my grandmother. My grandmother is the only person that is allowed to visit him anytime she wants and it’s not because the hospital allows it, it’s because she’s made it that way.

My grandparents have been married for over 60 years, so just the thought of my grandmother not being with my grandfather is simple unacceptable to her. The first day, she barely got to see my grandfather and she was furious. So the next day, after showing up an hour after the visiting hours, she started demanding to see him. She stood on the door knocking and saying that she’s a close friend of the family that owns the hospital – which she is – and that if she was not allowed in she would call them. Her threat worked; she went in to see him and talk to him. But after 30 minutes, the doctors asked her to leave – again not acceptable to her.

After leaving the room, she went to find the lady in charge of that area and the two doctors looking after my grandfather. My grandmother convinced them to give her access to see him whenever she wanted. Her argument: her age.

Ever since that day, the people in charge of Intensive Care in the hospital see my grandmother and immediately open the door for her. And even though my mom and I have gone in with my grandmother every time she goes in, if we are not with her, we can only go visit him at the times that are allowed.

Just like my grandmother, my grandfather has also gotten his way in the hospital. As a patient of the hospital he is supposed to follow a strict diet, well that is not the case for him. The nurses told me that he was a very demanding “eater”, if he didn’t like the food he would tell them to take the meal back and tell them how to make that meal tastier. And she claims that they’ve started following his advice for all the other patients and they are happier with the food.

Today, I saw him asking the nurses for a Coke Zero. When the nurses told the doctor that my grandfather wanted a Coke Zero, I heard the doctor say, “Just because it’s Mr. Argüello, I’ll allow it, but don’t let the other patients know, coke is not allowed in this part of the hospital…”

I guess that when you are over 80 years old and have been married for over 60 years, rules don’t apply to you anymore – at least not in Nicaragua.