Early morning phone call - it's never GOOD news, is it?
Okaasan's Care Manager rang to report that she is having eating problems. Well, swallowing problems. She is losing weight fast and they wondered if we'd give permission to put her on a direct-feeding bag and tubes....
It's a common problem, I gather, for people with late stage dementia. There's a medical word for it, but basically it means the automatic act of swallowing gets weaker and there are increased dangers of food getting stuck/going down the "wrong way"/choking.
I've written before that we've noticed this past year how Okaasan stores a mouthful of saliva in her cheeks, and then it all spouts out when she attempts to talk or can't hold it in anymore. But, until now the care home was happy with her eating routines.
Now they are concerned.
We DON'T want her to have all the tubes and procedures to have direct-feeding. It isn't a pleasant procedure, and once on it - you never get off it. In fact, we both confirmed with eachother this week that if WE get to this stage - "please don't do it to me". It's got to be better to get weaker, sleep, have gentle end of life support and then slip away....if possible.
Of course, the care home is closed to family visits at the moment as Sapporo is one of Japan's latest COVID-19 hotspots. So we can't go in and try and encourage Okaasan to eat.
But we plan to tell the nurse to try aloe yogurts and the sweet sake drink that Okaasan loves so much, it won't be enough for sustenance, but maybe even SEEING the containers will jog her memory of pleasant eating experiences?
Hope so. And I HOPE we can get into the home and see her soon.
We don't actually know the Covid-19 numbers in the hospital/care home at the moment. There isn't any point in hassling the staff by phoning. On the local news "Cluster 61" was at 8 or 11 cases a few days ago. I think that may be our care home hospital. But don't know.
So...not happy news...
But, let's end with a positive! FIVE years ago, thanks to Google Photos for telling me this, we were down in the Saitama area visiting Okaasan's family for that big trip. She got to meet a brother before he died a few months later, and her oldest son...who also died a year later...and the three of us walked around her old home Kawagoe...the old shops, the shrines.
It was a stressful trip for us to arrange, but she enjoyed it so much. And it was the best timing. A year later - was it that? - she fell in the kitchen, broke a bone in her spine, went into hospital and her dementia levels went thru the roof...
But this day in November 2015....all was well....for a while (I seem to remember a stuck-in-the-toilet-incident at the Yokohama bus terminal...;-)