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melting but not down

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

feeling my age

Had a great 60th party, now back to reality.  Last Friday the care home rang to say that they'd called the doctor out to mum because they didn't think she'd been herself all week.  The doctor told them to let the family know that mum was in the "final stages of dementia".  I was on my way home from work when they rang so of course thought of lots of questions after the phone call, especially after I'd looked it up on the net and seen all the horror stories about the final stages.  Lovely daughter and I went over the same night and had a long talk with the staff. They couldn't give me any timescales but said that the doctor had stopped all mum's medication apart from aspirin because at 91, she'd "had a good innings"- its a blessing I suppose as getting her to take all her tablets has always been a struggle. She sleeps a lot, doesn't have the balance to walk unaided and isn't drinking enough, although she has good days with her eating.  Mum was already in bed when we went at 6.30pm so we returned on Saturday morning.  She doesn't initiate conversations any more and although she responds when you talk (very loudly) to her, half the time its clear she hasn't heard or understood you.  She seems lost in a world of her own most of the time and sometimes says she wishes she were going home, which I think is probably her childhood home.  I filled in an end of life form again, confirming that I didn't want mum to be taken to hospital but treated at the care home if ill, didn't want  her resuscitating if her heart stopped but did want her to receive non-invasive life prolonging treatment to make her comfortable, like oxygen or antibiotics.  I even phoned the travel insurance people to check we were covered if we had to cancel our holiday at the beginning of August (we are).  Am I awful to hope things don't drag on too long?

I'm off work this morning, which is just as well.  Had a chewy day at work yesterday - someone kicked off and threw a chair across the room, I wasn't under threat but it had an impact.  I've felt exhausted and down ever since.  Beginning to think I'm too old for this job.


Greg said...

I wish someone had alerted me that my own Mum was in "the final stages". I recognise the signs now in what you describe. I was bewildered and didn't understand the significance of her becoming so uncommunicative and lost in herself. Then again, I am appalled by my lack of gumption - why didn't I look up the final stages on the internet? I am so slow and it seems I'm doomed to go through life looking back at what I should have done and regretting.

No, I don't think it's awful to hope that things don't drag on. There is so little of the woman you remember left and her capacity to enjoy anything new is gone. It's hard not to read the desire to "go home" as a longing for the end. My Mum kept looking past me towards the end, as if she was excitedly waiting for someone else to arrive.

It sounds like your Mum is comfortable and going gently into that good night. Whatever Dylan Thomas said, I think that sounds a blessing in these circumstances. I'm thinking of you.

Clippy Mat said...

Lily: congrats on your birthday!
thinking of you at this time. Hope all goes well with your Mum.

Lily said...

Thank you both for your good wishes. Its comforting to know you're out there. Greg, you're right, you should have been forewarned but then I think health care staff don't like being the bearers of bad news - when my dad was in intensive care after his bypass operation, the nurse just kept saying he was "very poorly" which we interpreted as with treatment, will get better. He was dead within a week, it was such a shock. I'd rather know and have time to prepare myself, mentally and practically.

rilera said...

Lily I'm sad to hear about your mom. No, you are not terrible to hope that her suffering isn't prolonged. We who've been there know what you are going through.

Happy birthday you sexy sexagenarian!

Lily said...

Hi Rilera, good to hear from you again, I do drop by your blog now and again, keep up the good work!