26 October 2017

Bad bad news

I've been saying it enough times to people over the last few months but now a professional has told me the same. It somehow has more gravity and is more of a shock. 

My mother is dying.

Mum has been in hospital for 6 weeks now and we had not managed to see a doctor older than 25 years in all that time. The young girl looked out of her depth most of the time every time we asked for an update and gave airy-fairy unsatisfactory answers to our questions. Finally after much pushing Kay and I managed to get an appointment with the consultant on Tuesday and the news was not good. 

Mum is dying.

The arterial narrowings in her abdomen and legs have caused poor blood flow to her lower legs.  The huge postcard-size ulcer or wound on her leg is never going to heal, because oxygenated blood cannot get to it. Now she has infections in it and similarly the antibiotics cannot reach the wound. This means Mum has a permanent leg infection. The wound is getting bigger and bigger and turning the leg gangrene. The toxins building up are making her confused. 

She also appears to be losing blood somewhere internally (from her low blood count) but to find out where would involve uncomfortable tests which for a 94-year-old very frail patient would be horrible. So they are giving her blood transfusions as well as fluids as her blood pressure has crashed.

She is so weak that the physiotherapists have given up trying to get her to stand let alone walk. She is bed-bound. So going home is never going to be an option as she cannot even get from a chair to a commode now let alone to the bathroom.

She is in so much pain, they are drugging her up to the eyeballs with a strong cocktail of opiates and other painkillers. Ninety per cent of the time when I visit (which is every day) she is in a deep sleep and no amount of shaking or yelling in her ear will rouse her. Her lunch lies untouched at her bedside. I sit and write text messages on my phone while she sleeps and then I go home again. On her more wakeful episodes she talks in a whisper and comes out with weird stuff. On Monday she asked me what time my husband Greg was coming home from work that day. He's been dead seven years. It was like a knife through my heart.

The hospital have said she does not have long. From what they say it might be a matter of a few months, but obviously they cannot say for sure. To me she looks like she will barely manage it through the next few weeks. They want to move her to a nursing home to get more palliative round-the-clock medical care. This is now being arranged. Although I have guessed this all along, hearing it from someone else's mouth as a definite fact is hard to take. This is my mum. WAS my Mum. IS my Mum.

As if that news was not bad enough, on the same day, my best friend rang to tell me her husband died the night before of a heart attack. I have known him over 40 years. She was my best pal at university and my bridesmaid. By association he became a good friend too. He was fit and healthy and had not been ill until Monday night. At 73 he was not particularly old.  He was taken ill suddenly and died in A&E. It has been such a shock I cannot get it out out of my mind. 

What with the news of my Mum too, Tuesday was the worst day imaginable.

12 comments:

angela said...

I am a Portuguese reader,so maybe I can not express myself in the most appropriate way.
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers and I wish you strength and courage in these difficult times.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

I am so sad for you Addy (and Kay) and do so hope your mum’s pain can be managed effectively once she is transferred to a nursing home, although it is probable this will increase her unresponsiveness.

As one who worked in care/nursing homes for many years, I do know that she will receive more attention, as in making her as comfortable as possible and regular input from staff, district nurses and GP’s. But I guess this is small comfort now.

Despite the NHS being under severe pressure, it is unforgivable that you and Kay had to push and push for consultant input and until that time, you were left helpless and unknowledgeable of you mum’s condition. When you feel the time is right I would strongly suggest you contact PALS, for lessons need to be learnt here and urgent changes made.

I am so sad to hear of your friends husband too Addy.

Please know my thoughts are with you and Kay and of course your dear mum.

The kindest of regards
Anna

Linda deV said...

My deep sympathies for what the three of you are going through. The process of losing your mother, seeing her in pain and dealing with your own grief....all very hard things. Take good care of yourself during this time.

Polly said...

Oh Addy I don't know what to say, I have tears in my eyes after reading your latest news. I hope your dear mum will soon be moved to a care home, it might not make much difference to her condition but it will help you and Kay to see her more comfortable and receiving more attention.

Maggie May said...

So sorry. There is no easy/adequate way, either to say this or to endure it. The cycle of life/ death just goes on and leaves us with empty holes.
Please know that you are in my thoughts and that I care.
Maggie x

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I am so sorry to hear the news about your mother. It's not a nice way to go - untreatable infection while entering a drug-induced haze. She should be sitting in a rocking chair watching the sun sinking down while recollecting her long and eventful life.

Anna of Mutton Style and Years said...

Very sorry Addy. My mother has a low white blood count and is poorly. My father died on Thursday so we're going through it too.

ADDY said...

So sorry to hear that Anna. I wish you strength to cope with the weeks ahead. x

Pam said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. I don't think you ever get over your parents' deaths - it's five years since my mum died - both parents lingered, bed-bound, in hospital as they faded away. I miss my mother every day. I wish you strength - and comfort in your lovely daughter.

the veg artist said...

I'm so sorry, Addy. Many years ago my Dad did the mental confusion thing. He talked to me as though I was a friend and we were both still children. I think it's more distressing for the listener than it is for the confused parent. It was as though he was no longer with us, but he was. Going through it is something I wouldn't wish on anybody.
I hope she's more comfortable in a nursing home, and you must look after yourself as well. Thinking of you.

K Ville said...

I'm really sorry to read that Addy. Thinking about you and sending you lots of love and strength. Take time to sit and hold her hand. I'm so glad I took time to sit and hold my father's and whilst he was dying. It made a difference to us both. Thinking about you xxxx

LJ said...

Addy,
I cannot even imagine what you are experiencing; losing my grandmother was terrible for me and worse on my mother and aunt. After working in eldercare for a few years, I have seen the comfort that medical treatment can provide patients in similar situations, including Grandma, who went through extreme dementia but always retained some good memories - especially of my grandfather though he had passed over ten years previously. She's comfortable, so try to let that comfort you. It sounds like she is looking back on cheerful times - that's a great thing. There is no way to ultimate way to provide comfort to you, but for what it's worth, I provided care for a number of women until their time came to transition, and the thing that consistently resonated, regardless of whether or not they were on pain medications or psychiatric meds was that they were all very peaceful in the months or year before leaving our presence. In each person, there seemed to be a defining moment when dementia had officially arrived, but there was a positive side. A new kind of peace that I had not seen in anyone seemed to surround them in the last months. It took awhile to put this into perspective (certainly due to my age and ignorance) since I never believed that there could be peace in that situation, but I witnessed no suffering and a lucid calmness. Certainly this will not make things simple or less painful for you, bit I do hope that you may be able to take comfort in learning what I've witnessed to be more common in this difficult situation. Much love to you and yours; take time for yourself through proper nutrition to keep your clarity and stress reasonable. Sleep when you are able. Try yoga videos on YouTube to rid the nervous energy and frustration (Erica Vetra has a good 25 minute beginners session that keeps me level when life is overwhelming). I normally don't "talk to strangers" online, but coming by your post inspired me to reach out and support you. There have been surprising times when a random person has been able to help me with advise when I am too overwhelmed to find my own way. You'll find yours; remain confident with mindful communication and by nourishing yourself and others while not overextending your energy.