Unexpected good news: I talked today with Linda, the hospice nurse, and found that my mother is now eating much better than she has in months. I had called the nursing home yesterday and talked to the nurse assigned to her for that shift, and she had said my mom ate fairly well at lunch, some mashed potatoes and squash. And, I talked to my grandmother for a while this evening, and when she visited on Wednesday, my mom was asleep much of the time, but she had also been told that my mom’s appetite had improved. I’m not sure when this change occurred, if it’s just the past several days, or since last week, but it’s the most positive news we’ve had in a long while.
I did ask Linda what this means for her hospice care. For the time being, she’ll continue with hospice, adding that “extra layer” of care beyond the regular services of the nursing facility. It’s true that her physical condition, which had already put her heart at risk before her eating slowed so much, is still far from good. If she’s able to eat “normal” kinds and amounts of food – perhaps half or two-thirds of most meals, and not go overboard with candy and those things – she’ll gain back some weight, and won’t starve to death, which I was so afraid of when I learned she’d lost 15 pounds in two weeks. But although she shouldn’t be as weak then as she’s been the last few months, she’ll have the same kinds of physical problems that she had six months ago and more. A person can’t smoke cigarettes for 40 years, eat poorly, and not exercise, and expect their body to serve them well indefinitely. Her body has rebelled for years already, and feeding it is very good, no question, but I don’t think this will bring about miraculous changes.
I am working this out in my mind as I’m writing. What I mean is, given that her hospice diagnosis was end stage cardiac disease, her eating again doesn’t change the precarious situation her heart is in. I think it’s more likely, though, that she’ll be here longer than we had come to expect in recent weeks. I do see this as very good news, a positive sign where I had stopped hoping for one. I’m so glad for it, glad to be wrong.
OH – almost forgot. A while after I talked to her assigned nurse yesterday, someone else at the nursing home called me to say they planned to move my mom out of her private room. She confirmed that the MRSA infection my mom has had for MANY WEEKS had finally cleared up (meaning, three successive cultures came back with negative results), within the past week or so, but they didn’t want to move her from the private room until someone else needed it. That being the case now, they planned to move her to another room today. I hope she gets a roommate she’s able to talk with, so that she might be a little less lonely.