Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bea Loses the Ability to Swallow

Dysphasia (dis fe' je) n. Difficulty in swallowing.

Dysphasia is what Bea now has. It is common in elderly bedridden folk at the end of life. When she tries to swallow water, her throat makes a gurgle that leaves her brow furrowed with surprise, a new development, recognized by professionals as one of the last circles my mother will make prior to landing.

I spend a lot of time by her bedside.

BEA: “Why are you so nice to me?”

ME: “Because I love you?”

BEA: “Are you my mama?”

ME: “I take care of you, so I guess that’s like being your mama.”

Nurse Jane comes to visit and provides counsel on how to keep Bea as comfortable as possible in the days she has left. We will try to continue fluids, despite the dysphasia.

“It may just be your time, Bea,” Jane says, pragmatic as ever.

For once my mother seems ready, at last, to accept this permission to die.

“I’m very old,” she croaks. “Now leave me alone.”

We follow orders, leaving her propped up in bed, swaddled in down.

2 Comments:

Blogger Karyn said...

Is it wrong to offer virtual hugs to a virtal stranger?

No matter how practical or even welcome death may be, it has never failed to leave me in the lurch, with an unimaginable void somewhere in my center.

Take care of, be gentle with, yourself.

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I had to cry there. I visit my mom 3 times a week at the long-term, she is doing fine. Sometimes she's confused, but sometimes she has a good day. Up until last year, she read a book a day, and she is 85.
Her Dr tells me its 'touch n go', Mom has congenital heart failure, and she's diabetic., the past year her heart has been getting worse and worse.
There is nothing good about getting old, but we're all headed there., and its so hard on the care-takers. God bless you.

5:30 AM  

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