When the Elderly Bedridden Cough Up Phlegm
Bea has been coughing, off and on, for two days now. Saturday I call Hospice and a nurse comes. She takes Bea’s temperature and uses a swab to remove as much phlegm as possible. The nurse suggests Bea should drink more fluids, but my mother now chokes on them, as if her body has forgotten how to swallow. There is a risk of aspiration, and pneumonia.
Yesterday Bea feels “awful” although she is in a happy place by the time Lisa helps me change bedclothes. We notice ankle swelling and position the front of the bed higher than usual.
The cough doesn’t seem to bother Bea, although it makes an eerie, guttural sound. I wipe the phlegm away with tissues. The wastebasket beside her bed is full of them.
The HPCCC nurse on duty calls to see how things are going. She does not seem to think Bea’s condition will improve, but my mother has surprised us all before, so who knows?