You are entering a new phase…

Those were the words of the Hospice nurse yesterday.
To talk to my mom on the phone, you might hardly notice any difference. To see her in person, you notice the changes. The medication that she is on is giving her a voracious appetite – but I see no reason to deny her the pleasures of food, and especially chocolate -which she loves so dearly. The medication is making her face puffy, and then of course, there is the swelling.
When mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, she was put on Lasix – a medication that assists the body in releasing fluid that a normal heart would automatically do. Her left foot would swell slightly, but that was about it. We discontinued the lasix when mom started Hospice treatment.
Yesterday, when I went to visit mom, the nurses aide pointed out to me that her lrft leg was swelling all the way up to her hip. And I also found out that her body is "weeping" – giving off fluid through her pores that is not being released in the normal fashion. So, she is swathed in a blanket that absorbs the moisture.
I called the Hospice nurse and she came out to see her. The nurse talked to my mom’s doctor who in turn called me. The doctor seems to think that the tumor we treated in June has grown and his pressing up against a vein that is not allowing sufficient blood flow to the lower part of the body. So, we have the swelling. I talked to the doctor about putting her back on Lasix – she told me she was hesitant to do so because she was pretty sure that the swelling was being caused by the growth in the tumor and that Lasix would not do anything to allow for sufficient blood flow to the lower part of her body, which is what would relieve the swelling. I told the doctor that we should try anyway – for one week to see if it would give her relief. The doctor said after a week, we would have to begin testing my mom’s electrolyte levels (blood tests) as the Lasix would remove fluids from her body, just not the ones we are trying to target. But, on the chance that the Lasix might help, we will try – but I am not going to have her on it for too long if it is not helping the problem.
When I was on the phone yesterday, the hospice nurse said, "Jan, I want you to know that you are entering a new phase in your mother’s condition." When I asked her what that meant, she could not be specific, but she was indicating that things were changing.
I talked to the doctor about that, and asked what that meant. She said that I would probably see my mom sleeping more (which I already have), and that this could ultimately result in renal failure. But, she also said that some people live with that type of swelling for some time.
So, we are on to a new phase. I was a little saddened by that last night, but when I spoke to mom today, she sounded fine – so I allowed myself to delude myself and say, she sounds fine and that is all that matters right now.
I hope I find the strength – and somehow, I know I will.

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