Sunday, November 8, 2009


As Mom's condition has changed over the past seven months, Dad and I have had to adapt to new situations. We've been able to cope with the general progress of Mom's cancer by instituting certain basic rituals related to Mom's nutrition, hygiene, comfort, mental stimulation, and overall emotional health. Whatever may happen, we never want Mom to feel she is alone, abandoned, or otherwise uncared-for. At the same time, we've had to add or alter rituals as Mom's situation has changed.

Right now, thanks to doctor recommendations and some other factors, we're about to put Mom on a thrice-daily routine with the following components:

1. strength exercises
2. incentive spirometer exercises
3. oral care

The weakness of Mom's legs remains a major concern, which is why we're now trying to get her to do heel raises and shallow squats. We'll likely add some other strength exercises that she can perform while seated. I haven't decided on whether we should set goals for Mom; for the moment, just getting her to do minimal work is hard, especially on days when Mom isn't walking in the park.

The docs warned us that Mom's lungs continue to crackle, a sign that she spends her time breathing too shallowly. The problem is that this gives anaerobic bacteria (i.e., the bugs that thrive when there's no oxygen) a chance to hide and flourish in those dark corners of the lungs that aren't receiving enough air. The incentive spirometer-- which we've been using with Mom over the past few days-- will help us tackle this problem by encouraging Mom to breathe more deeply.

Unfortunately, Mom still has a thrush problem. She's been taking medication for around a week now, but I'm unsure whether it's done much to help Mom's tongue, which remains covered in white patches. There are things we can do to help the meds along, luckily; it's just a matter of buying what we need and applying it to Mom's tongue throughout the day.

Rituals provide structure to life, and structure affords people a measure of comfort. Even thrill-seekers, people who constantly seek the new, have rituals, whether they admit this or not. Dad and I want to do whatever we can to make Mom feel happy, loved, safe, and secure. Being consistent about her care, even when her cancer changes the game on us, is one of the ways we can do this. We're still striving for that consistency, but it won't elude us for long.


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