Saturday, 16 May 2015

Mum gets an infection again, causing confusion

On Thursday I went up to the nursing home and mum was obviously not well. I arrived around 10.30am and she was sitting in her chair asleep in front of her untouched breakfast. I put her to bed. We ate lunch together in the dining room and then I went home as usual around 2pm. Today when I arrived she was sitting in the lounge area but she was not very responsive when I spoke to her. She appeared to be trying to stand up from her chair, unsuccessfully. I got her to her room eventually with the help of a staffer. Then I dialed up my brother in Texas on the iPad and mum spoke with him briefly but since he's not used to mum's unresponsivenss - she was the same as this six weeks ago at the end of March when she had to go into hospital (you can read about that episode on the blog) - he signed off after a few minutes. When old people are sick they can have difficulty answering even simple questions.

Today I asked the staff to bring mum's lunch to her room as well as mine because she was obviously not able to walk, even with the walker. The staff told me that the GP had recommended pushing fluids so I tried to get mum to drink water before lunch. She accepted being in bed for a while but then she started to throw off her bedclothes and make as if to get up. I asked her why she wanted to get up but she couldn't reply. She just looked at me and started to say something but the words did not come. Her eyes were wide open but it was as if she were asleep. She tried to get out of bed again and I asked her again why she wanted to get out of bed. She made an irritated face and said something I did not hear. Again I asked the same question, knowing that if she did get out of bed she would either fall on the floor or fall back on the bed. Again the irritated face. "Wha ...?" she said. I went to get help.

The staff came to her room when I pressed the buzzer and they put her back into bed. Then the lunch arrived on a tray carried by another staffer. I put the tray down on the table by the window and ate my meal then I fed mum a few spoonfuls of chicken and rice. She chewed the food thoroughly, as she normally does. After about ten minutes another staffer came into the room and started feeding mum in my place, and she talked with me about things in general while I sat by the window watching her care for my mother.

After lunch mum mercifully went to sleep, snoring quietly, and I left the nursing home after having a few discussions with different staff about installing bed rails to stop mum getting out of bed. Falls are the biggest single problem for old people, and with mum's myelodysplasia the risk of death in her case as a result of a fall is even more likely. I can't go up to the nursing home tomorrow because the streets around my place will be closed for a community event, but I'll be going again on Monday.

The nursing home telephoned me after I got home about the consent form for the bed rails and they confirmed for me that mum was started on oral antibiotics yesterday after we sent in a urine sample the day before. Her temperature today was about 38.5 degrees C. Of course the frequency of these events in mum's case, especially given the underlying medical condition that affects her blood (myelodysplasia is like a low grade of leukemia), means that one day soon probably an infection like the current one will end up being terminal. I have been telling people close to mum of late to prepare for this outcome, including G from the Coast, who I spoke with today; I also put mum on the phone to her so they could have a chat.

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