I’m sitting here in room 310 of the Appleton Medical Center watching the reading on my mom’s oxygen levels and keeping an eye on her labored breathing. She looks like a woman who is dying, and she is. The question is when, and what kind of life she may be able to have in the meantime.
Everything has been up in the air. She was admitted to Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc on Thursday after a long afternoon of throwing up. The diagnosis was quick: She has a bowel obstruction. Usually these will pass given some time, but she has cancer, and there was–and is–a question as to whether the blockage was something in her digestive system or a tumor. It’s now been over three days since they started waiting, and we’re still waiting. That doesn’t mean it’s is a tumor, but it does seem to make the chance more likely.
If it’s a tumor, then there may be an option to put in a stent to open up her intestinal tract, but that’s just buying time. Surgery may also be an option, but everyone we have talked to has said it’s an extremely risky one. My mom is in extremely bad shape and there’s a good chance she wouldn’t make it through it. Surgeons have discretion of course on whether they’ll operate or not, and they’re not going to do it unless they think there’s a reasonable chance for a positive outcome.
Today we meet with palliative and hospice care specialists. We should also be speaking to her primary doctor and oncologist. After a weekend of waiting, today may finally be a day of perspective and decisions.
She isn’t looking good. It’s hard to watch this, this woman who cared for my brother and I for so long, and who loves us very much, as we do her. There’s so little we can do for her, and so much she still wants to do.
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