I picked up my aunt at the airport this morning. It was great to see her and great to know that I will have some support the next couple of weeks dealing with my mom.
I warned her to be prepared – that mom was looking pretty frail. She handled seeing mom very well. While I was at the nursing home, mom’s hospice nurse pulled me aside and asked me if I was aware that mom’s primary care physician ordered a cat scan of the head for my mom. I said no and asked what the purpose of that would be. The nurse said she could only think that the purpose would be to see if the cancer had spread to her brain. The nurse asked me how I felt about that, and I told her that I did not think that my mom should be put through any more medical procedures unless it was going to produce some significant change in her. The nurse agreed and said she would call my mom’s primary care physician.
A few minutes later the nurse came into my mom’s room and said the doctor wanted to speak to me. The doctor told me that she thought that if the scan showed the cancer had spread to the brain, that some radiation treatments might give her more lucidity for her remaining time. She was careful to say that the treatment would not give my mom any more time, just perhaps some better quality of life.
I told her that I did not think it was a good idea – that the prior radiation treatments had been hard on my mom and that as she is getting frailer, I just did not think the trauma of this was a good idea. I told her that my mom had gotten sick after every prior radition treatment and threw up. She insisted that vomiting could be caused by the brain tumors and not the radiation, but I told her it was strange to me how mom only vomited after the radiation treatments and never at any other time. She kept insisting that my mom was aware that there were times when she was delusionary and that was different than a patient that had dimentia and was not aware. Thtat the current situation was affecting her quality of life. I told her I needed to think about it and get back to her.
Thank God my aunt was here. I asked the hospice nurse to meet with me and my aunt and I explained the situation to my aunt. She immediately shook her head no and said that she did not think that we should put mom through that. I was so glad. I started to cry and asked if they thought that by not doing this I was killing my mom. Both said no, and that at her age and in her present condition that this treatment would be too difficult for her. And in the end, it was not going to give her any more time.
I was so grateful to have my aunt there to assist in my mom’s health care decisions. I have been making them all on my own up to this point, and it seems that at a certain point you really question if you are doing the right thing or not.
I also think the medical profession could do with a little less treatment and a little more sensitivity. I have asked the facility to inform me if the doctor orders any more treatments of this nature so that I can be part of the conversation to determine if it is in my mom’s best interest to pursue.
I know in my heart I am not killing my mom – I just pray that I am doing the right thing.