At last something definitive is being done…
I complained to the specialist (who really was seeing Mom for the one problem, but I made my complaint general) –
Mom hasn’t been truly well since her discharge from hospital several months back,
We keep thinking she’d get better, but she continues to lose weight and weaken,
Now she has fever for more than a week and is not responding to antibiotics, and her words are getting fewer and more confused, what could it be?
And the good doctor said –
That wouldn’t do. I recommend an admission so that we can sort it out and find out what’s really happening, and start intravenous antibiotics.
And that’s why I spent longer than a workday in the hospital – from blood tests to the consult to the admit. Wait here, then there, then over there. (And in between the waiting, we viewed the Christmas decorations, and took a photo of Mom in a wheelchair next to a Christmas tree).
And so at last something definitive is being done. Or so I hope.
Mom has not fully recovered since her hospitalisation some months ago. In fact, we seem to be caught in a vicious cycle of repeated bouts of illness and weakness. At the most, she is well for a week, and this cheers us up as we embark on exercises and sunning and making plans for excursions. Too soon, however, her next infection will be upon us.
Sometimes it starts with lethargy, and she cannot finish her food. She starts to slow down and shuffle. Oftentimes, she ends up sitting on the bathroom floor, unable to get up.
But she cannot tell us she is not well, or that she has slipped onto the floor. Instead she says she is Okay. We have become detectives to spot the early signs of illness. Is Mom wrapping herself up as though she is cold? Does she tremble a little more when she walks? Has she stopped smiling? Has she stopped talking? Just the other day, she did not return my greeting when I came home – she glanced at me and looked away mute. It was as though she couldn’t hear me, and then couldn’t see me.
Out came the thermometer, BP set, and then the antibiotics. Dinner plans are canceled, family members called to standby. I dread the possibility the antibiotics do not work.
So I learned a new word recently – frailty. As used by healthcare professionals describe the condition of old persons who are declining. It is defined by weight loss, increasing debility and inability to fight off simple infections. Mom doesn’t quite meet the definition yet – she is maintaining her weight (barely), and she does recover her strength between infections (somewhat).
Already, I have made plans for what I will do differently when Mom recovers from this episode of infection, her second this month. I’m not ready to give up hope yet. “Frailty” is not here, but I sense him near, perhaps just around the next corner, waiting. I hope we can keep him away for a long while more…
While looking for a photo to use in my previous post (the Photo Challenge), I chanced upon a photograph of Mom taken almost 5 years ago.
The difference is startling.
Then – she was standing in her own kitchen, her hair dyed black, laughing at a joke and looking into the camera. At that time, she was no longer driving, but she took the bus around, and her kitchen was stocked with food items she had bought herself. The house was clean, though there were plenty of things lying about. Little knick-knacks, plenty of half-used pens and stubby pencils, stacks of this and that – just in case these items were required some day. She was a bit of a hoarder.
I remember being a little concerned about a change of personality and conversations were kept to simple topics; complex ideas could not be conveyed. She was vague about whether she had paid some bills on my behalf.
Today she is but a shadow of that person almost 5 years ago.
And I recall the advice I was given when Mom was diagnosed with dementia –
Enjoy your Mother, enjoy her now.
Good advice to follow then. Good advice to practice today.