Saturday, December 31, 2011

Helping to find answers

Every morning I am greeted with big questions from Gmom. Usually it is related to something she is very afraid of. Today's question:

"Do I have to go back to the hospital?"

Remember, we are working to help her decide to have major colon surgery, so I paused, and this is what I said:

"Yes, you will have to go back to the hospital, either sooner if you decide to have surgery or later when your colon blocks and you have emergency surgery."

I liked how I came up with a yes, you do answer. Often I find myself answering to give her comfort in the moment. I could answer, "No, not today" or "not unless you decide on surgery", but is that the truth? No! The truth is, in her condition, she will wind up hospitalized or dead eventually if she doesn't have a surgery or she will walk into the hospital and say, "I am ready, fix this gut of mine".

Dementia makes conversations swirly and what is said in the moment doesn't always stick, so later today I suspect I will be answering her again when she asks,

"Do I have to go to the Hospital again?"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Going to KICK Cancer's Butt...

Today we had the "here is the deal" appointment with the surgeons. Yes, the mass in the colon is cancer. To treat it, we recommend surgery. Yes, gmom is at a higher risk than the average Jane, being 80, and obese, and having an aortic stint, but...she is strong enough to recommend surgery...and to remove the cancer is to stop it from taking over her. Now add dementia...a little tantrum in the doctor's office, a little forgetting where we are and why we are here...and it really is a challenge to figure out...What does this woman really want to do with her body that has an 8cm mass of cancer hanging out in her colon, which is near blocking the darn exit of waste.

My sister and I both participated in the appointment with gmom and it was very helpful to have her there, to be the extra hands maneuvering the chair, to ask the straight out questions, like "what do you recommend, what's your opinion on the risk of surgery vs. not." We were given many different options, some to deal with the possibilities of a blocked colon that do not address the cancer and the big one, take it out, see what the beastly large intestine looks like, and figure out on the spot how to rehook up all the plumbing so that what goes in does come out. Not a pretty picture. It might be several inches, it might be THE ENTIRE COLON...we won't know until we get in there. OK then, let's do this cancer removal project...We just need to make sure Gmom wants this. It looks like she is ready to fight it, she doesn't seem done yet, if you know what I mean... She's got spunk, and humor and a twinkle in her eye, when she's not worrying about cancer and surgery...

For me as I help her become comfortable in her shoes about what she wants, I am saying...Gmom is going to kick cancer's butt...she's going to open up her belly, have the mass removed, get some new plumbing hook ups and so be it...Cancer will not take this lady down...She might take a little time to rebound from such a big surgery, but rebound she will...cancer, and maybe colon free!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today...Is Going to be a Long Day

Up at 5am to help in the lu, again at 5:45. Up again at 6:45 to help with her air, up again at 7am in the lu. 8 am in the lu, then while surfing the net and sipping my coffee called again for channel changing and 10 minutes later for air help. Just got called again. So...It's 8:20 am and I have visited her room down stairs 8 times. I am going to just keep smiling, just keep breathing, just keep helping, and run the stairs and call it my daily exercise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finally Showered...

Well, the week just flew by. Doc appt. Tuesday, Echo cardiogram Friday, PT Wednesday and Thursday. Overall I feel Gmom is strong. She's alert, she's worried, she's more herself than the early part of the week. Being with limited mobility and being weak makes the simple things we all take for granted, moving over in bed, getting up from a chair, stepping into a shower, challenging and scary. Falling is a reality, though she has not once even come close to a fall here. She was admitted to the hospital 36 hours after Tim and I returned from a much needed weekend in Seattle. I had her shower before we left on Dec. 2nd. Sunday she was finally home from the hospital. It was over a week since her last bathing. Monday, weak, Tuesday weak, and prior to the hospital, she could stand for the five or so minutes it took to get her soaped and rinsed. I decided I wanted a shower chair just in case and with all the doctor appointments, I did not get to Woodland until Friday...and by Friday I was feeling maybe she could handle the shower. I did get her hair washed at the kitchen sink. My joke...her BO had BO...if you know what I mean. We did do some bed side washing, but there is nothing like running warm water and a sudsy scrub to clean a body...

Hurray...I just finished her shower. It's Saturday morning, she's been up twice already, and it just seemed right to give it a go. I did not have the chair in with us, she said she was strong enough. Since her hair was washed yesterday, we only took about three minutes to get her clean. We only had one panic attack, and I mean we as I reacted to her panic, and one change up of how we usually do these things, but I am happy to say. GMOM IS A CLEAN BEAN...

Also today, I arranged for Riley to go to a swim meet with a neighbor. That's hard on me, as I really enjoy being at the meets and this is a team run meet which requires all parents to work. I will get to go later, after my sister arrives. She lives a bit over an hour away, and also has family and's not easy really for anyone, but I will feel OK about leaving for a few hours once she is here. With Gmom needing extra hands in the bathroom, I no longer feel comfortable having Tim or the teens take on the full care of her, right now. She is getting better and actually took care of things this am all by her self, but the last thing I want is for anyone to feel they have to do things they are not comfortable with, like wiping your Mother-in-Laws booty...enough said.

I have enjoyed making crafts and working on things with Tessa and being more home than out volunteering does have some perks. Yesterday I made a wreath and tomorrow I plan to work with some thrift store sweaters and make new stockings, seven of them, for the family. Seven, yes, we also have David stay with us over the Holiday's. David is Tim's younger brother, a wonderful, 46 year old man with Downs and possibly early signs of Alzheimer's' the sign at my entrance...the one secret Santa just gave me...sums it all up.

"Welcome to the Nut House" with smiling cute acorn nuts!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home and Decisions and Dementia

Well, after 5 days in the hospital, 2 colonoscopies, 2 x-rays and a whole lot of oxygen, my mom came home on Sunday evening. She was exuberant, loving all the Christmas lights we passed, hugged everyone at home,and sat with the tree for awhile. She also ate, sat by the fire for a bit and was more lively than she has been in months.Our new friend, Mr. Oxygen was at the house, along with several travel companions, we call George. This is new, mom needs oxygen now. She was desating...also known as not having enough oxygen in her body to function well at the hospital.

Night one was tough, she was grateful to be home, but very unsteady on her feet, weak. In the am when I got her up she was messy. That's also new. I watched how the techs at the hospital cleaned her up, so I was comfortable, had the right tools, and kept things light. She did wake several times through the night, but hey, she just got home.

She was not there mentally Monday morning, talking with her eyes closed, grunting, that kind of thing. She was out of it. Seemed drugged. I took it as a need for sleep and kept things really simple for her, though I did get her up several times to walk around the house.

Tuesday she woke up and was messy cleaned her up, reminded her to CALL me when she needed to go...and we started our day. Again she was out of it, so I called the doc and we made an afternoon appt. By the time the appt. came I could tell she was coming out of the fog. Her eyes were opening, she was thinking, mostly worrying, but thinking and being present. She checked out fine at the appt. Me and George, though had some trouble negotiating the wheelchair, tank driving. See my mom she has some mass, weighted in well over 250lbs this last time. I tried to find the humor in it all, me trying to turn, George heading the other way, ramming my mom's feet into walls...Pathetic...

Wednesday mom is herself, though she did wake up messy...oh well. She ate, she laughed, she worried, she asked lots of questions...Now dementia is weird. Sometimes she remembers everything, but right now, the stress of this all, when I went in to wake her Wed. am, she looked all scared and said "Is the ambulance here?" I was like "Why?" and she said..." To take me to my surgery" Um..."no, you do not have any surgery planned" Later on that day she asked, when do I go in for surgery, and promptly said, I am not having surgery.

So backing up a little, mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. She has an 8 cm mass near blocking her colon plus 2 other masses. Surgery is recommended, but mom aslo is having trouble with her oxygen, she has a stint in her aorta, and surgery just may kill her. We do not know. This is real, and big and scary and all options SUCK...End of rant.

Physical therapy came yesterday and is coming again today. I am having OT, and a social worker come. I am taking my mom to a appt. Friday and another one in 2 weeks. That si all I know right now. And I am trying to help gmom see, today is beautiful, today is here, today you are breathing and eating and noticing how cute the cat is. Today you will have an appt. with PT. That is all. We can not know what tomorrow brings, we don't know if she will hemorrhage again, or have her colon blocked. What we do know is it's raining, she's comfortable, taking a nap after having breakfast.

My life is shifting into mom care for my mom and I am going to have to remember that I also have a house full of teens and a wonderful husband. I will be looking into caretakers now. Mom will be diciding what she wants to do about this cancer. She was saying the other day..."boy this dementia sure gets in the way of undersatnding everything everyone is telling me" Now that is one smart lady.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gmom is going in for surgery

Just a quick update...on Monday night Dec. 6th my mom had a lot of intestinal bleeding. After consulting with the advice nurse we made an appointment for Tuesday am. At that appt. we were kinda rushed over to ER where they quickly got her on an IV and took 8 vials of blood for testing. ER was a 10 hour peaceful ordeal ending with her being admitted to the hospital.

Wednesday was just a hang out and wait day...until the evening when it was decided she needed a colonoscopy and the prep began....Oh joy...My mom can guzzle...she powered down her gallon of juice in 30 minutes and well then things got going...I am really glad I was there as she was unable to get herself from bed to pot and needed help. My help got her there in a minimal amount of mess.

Thursday she had her procedure and they found cancer, 2 spots so far and a very diseased colon, full of diverticulitis. They were only able to move about 3/4 through the colon and so...she was scheduled for another colon prep and scope.

Prep last night was the same. She guzzled, this time sitting on the pot...Somewhere along the line her monitors showed her heart was being irregular, so they, meaning all the staff, rushed in, freaked her out, got her to the bed, and gave her an EKG. More blood taken, more problems finding a good vein...But once in bed she went from freaked to calm, and sad, and worried, but mostly comfortable. She finally was ok with the stuff just filling her diaper, after all she had nothing in her, what was coming out looked just like it went in...

She will have her 2nd colonoscopy this morning...And then we get to find out the plan for surgery. This might not be pretty folks, when a colon is removed, a baggy gets added on the outside...And I know she is going to feel so defeated from this. I actually think in the long term, for someone who has trouble wiping back there anyhow, this just might make things easier for her. It may be different. Will know later today.