That little bottle brings back some bad memories for me. Memories of seeing this end up as my dad's only source of nutrition. Eventually, as his ability to swallow became more and more limited, he ended up taking a supplement via an external pump directly into his stomach as he could manage only water, coke and the odd scotch. Memories of, a few days after his funeral, dumping cartons and cartons of supplements at the local tip, because the NHS won't re-use any medical supplies already issued. His morphine and other drug supplies were turned into the pharmacy.
A couple of days ago, I felt a strong need to go to visit my mum, so I booked a flight out on December 28, returning January 5. Something told me I have to make a visit, something propelled me to book the flights as soon as I thought of it. Then today, her latest medical report arrived and it's worse news than usual. It seems she's only able to eat soup and yoghurt so the consultant has prescribed Fortisip. So, this little bottle appears back in our lives. It must be doubly hard for her as she goes down the road she watched her husband of almost fifty years go down. She's lost her appetite it seems and is rather quickly losing weight. My mum has a neighbour who is a wonderful lady and who cooks regularly for her. She's a personal chef and often takes to the highlands to do weekends at country homes. Through her kindness when she's at home in her little cottage nearby, my mum has been lucky to have had good, nutritionally sound, interesting food. I wonder if she's told her yet that she's not eating what she makes any more.
She's also now not able to get upstairs in the house, in one go. She apparently has to rest mid-way to try to catch her breath. She no longer goes for walks, apparently. Well I know for a fact she hasn't for a long time. But at least she's being more honest with her medical specialists which is, I'm sure, a good thing. She now has three items under 'diagnosis': Added to the Recurrent Lung Cancer and COPD, we now have Smoking Habit. She has told the consultant she smokes a pack a day - I know it's more than that. Against medical advice, she has again refused a chest x-ray because she quite simply doesn't want to know just how bad things are. But I do understand that part of it all. She wants these diseases to take her.
I called my mother yesterday to tell her of my travel plans (before I got the medical report). She was sounding very hoarse and struggling a little for breath. She asked me to go shopping for her to find some jumpers, which is the first time she's asked me to do that. I guess she's not even able to get to the shops now. I order her wine so that leaves just her cigarettes and as she's good friends with a chain smoker, I'm sure she's got that covered via her visits. She mentioned that she'd spoken with my sister who had pointed out that her voice sounds really bad and my mum had basically told her to mind her own business. OK, I thought, scrap the idea of asking too much about her health. When I did ask just in a general sort of so how are you doing, all I got was the usual "Oh I'm fine, just fine."
So it seems my visit is very timely, I hope she'll talk with me honestly about how things are and what she needs done. Already I think she needs her bedroom moved from upstairs to downstairs, to limit the times she has to climb the stairs. If she has to stop midway now, it won't be long until she's unable to manage them at all. I'm hoping the Macmillan nurse has a visit while I'm there so I can speak with her about additional ways to support my mum. Something tells me she may end up in care before her days are done. I know she'd hate that but I hope she understands it may be necessary.
Along with my extreme happiness right now, this is weighing heavily upon me. It won't be an easy visit as there will be some tough conversations. I just hope we can get on with each other. Being in that house is so very hard since my dad passed away.
My love was there for me this morning when I reached out to him after hearing the bad news about my mum's health. He reached right back out to me from so far away and comforted me with his words and his love, and his promise to be beside me every step of the way as I go through what lies ahead. I know he'll always be there for me and I've never had that before in my relationships. I am so blessed to have found this man, and to have had him find me. I hope my mother gets to meet him, to know him.