So, what’s been going on since I last wrote. Well, MW has been constrained to complete bed rest again, my Mum has had surgery to remove her breast cancer, and I’m even further overdue the break I’ve been promising myself since some time last year.
MW’s pressure sore has been getting worse. It’s gone from just being a single hole-type wound to a hole with undermining all the way around. The nurse demonstrated undermining by inserting her little finger into the wound and hooking it upwards – it accommodated her entire finger. This diagram gives a better illustration than my description (there’s no tunnelling in MW’s wound).
MW is back on the vac dressing. Unfortunately, the surrounding skin is breaking down. It might be due to continually having dressings applied to it or due to her being in bed all of the time, or a combination of everything. I think it’s safe to say that her skin is extremely delicate and is now at risk of breaking down at any time. This sore has completely dominated the whole of 2014 so far, and shows no sign of abating to any great degree before the end of the year – at least, in my opinion. No nurse is going to say that to me, though, even if I ask.
We’ve had several visits from tissue viability nurses, trying to come up with a solution that will prevent another spell in hospital. I think there was some novelty value in MW’s recent spell there. Having nurses and other patients to talk to was a change from only having me and the regular carers to interact with. But, after a week or so, she was quite desperate to be at home. I think that for her to have to go back into hospital would have a detrimental effect on her spirit. Which would be a sad setback because a lot of people comment on how positive her spirit is, given what she endures.
Meanwhile…Mum’s had surgery to remove the cancer from her breast. It’s been described as primary – or early detection – breast cancer. They can use whatever prefix they want, it’s difficult to see beyond the word ‘cancer’. The procedure was carried out as a day patient and she was discharged to convalesce at our house. I’ve never seen my Mum ill in this way before. She looked very grey and tired after surgery. Of course, that was to be expected but seeing her like that shocked me.
She’s come on quite well after surgery. She saw the oncologist today to discuss the option of chemotherapy. She’s a bit apprehensive about it. Partly because she’s afraid of the side effects, partly because of the prospect of having it done over 18 weeks. She knows that radiotherapy is pretty much a given. Knowing her as I do, one of the most worrying side effects would be hair loss. She’s quite proud of her appearance, which belies her septuagenarian status. For this to go would be quite a blow to her pride and self esteem. Given that physical side effects are common, I think she’d like to have as little emotional/psychological upset as possible. My Dad died from cancer, ten years ago. He chose not to receive either chemo or radiotherapy. I suspect this is playing on Mum’s mind. Fortunately, she appears to be coping quite well with it all. She’s got quite a few friends who have had similar episodes, or who know someone who has, and she can draw on their experience for both advice and comfort.
I’m the one who’s having a hard time getting my head around it all. When I give my time to either MW or my Mum, I feel guilty about neglecting the other. I keep being asked about respite but I genuinely don’t know when I’ll be able to take a break.