Some people think it’s strange that I publish blogs on my mum, but hey, it’s my way of dealing with it and hopefully some people can learn from it too. Tough reading ahead perhaps for some. And if you don’t want to read, that’s fine too. Stop here.

After coming into palliative care last Thursday, I think Dad really thought that he’d have months of bringing mum home for lunch and afternoon tea. We managed to take her home on Sunday for a couple of hours but it was not easy as she had a fall that morning.

Mum really took a turn for the worse on Monday. When I came in at breakfast time she couldn’t hold anything in her hand from jerking so much. Consequently hot drinks were spilt and we then realised she couldn’t swallow her medication and was trying to chew them. by Monday afternoon she was being given morphine and we were asked to call in the local priest. Father Anthony visited and gave mum her Last Rites as a Catholic and all 3 of us took Communion. I slept on a chair here that night.

Mum stopped eating yesterday and the morphine was increased. Nurses also gave her atropine to reduce respiratory secretions. Google tells me that this noise, sometimes known as the ‘death rattle’, is common and worse for those hearing it than the patients themselves.

Yesterday I painted mum’s nails. We also had to make an emergency visit to the pharmacy for some denture glue as mum was having a bit of trouble with them and, believe it or not, Dad has not seen her without her dentures in 62 years of marriage! Luckily all the wonderful carers and nurses are now in on that secret too.

Today I played music all day and sang to mum. Of course, I’ve done a lot of crying too. Dad has been upset all day as mum is not responding to us. Once the morphine wore off at 5ish today we were able to converse a bit more easily and Dad said the private things he wanted to say. I fed mum some warm custard before more of the morphine was administered.

Her blue eyes looked anxious to me today. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the scariest and yes I guess you could say the bravest. The nurses say it’s unusual for family to stay over as they can’t cope. The longer I stay here the harder it is to leave.

And for those who have asked about my mindfulness practice, I’m using it, BIG TIME! So I meditate for short periods a few times a day. In particular when I cry, I accept the feeling, I’m curious about the feeling. I don’t push it away. And of course I’m 100% present with mum when I hold her hand, talk to her, sing to her, feed her and soothe her head. I really don’t think I could be here doing what I’m doing without my skill of mindfulness. It’s being put to the test!

I’m missing Mark so much but as he says, it’s a time for the small unit of just dad, myself and mum to be together for this part. He brings me coffee, fresh air in the garden here, and laughter, every day.

So now as I lay my head on my fold up bed next to her for the third night, I wonder if she will have drifted off peacefully tonight. Her doctor said she has a ‘very strong heart’ so who knows, she’s a fighter and I’ll be fighting with her to the end.



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