Monday, November 27, 2006

When the Elderly Bedridden Cough Up Phlegm

Phlegm (flem) n. Thick, sticky mucus secreted by the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, as during a cold or other respiratory infection.

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?


Blogger Karyn said...

For whatever it is worth, I am sending warm thoughts and prayers for comfort to you both. You might do well to take extra care of yourself and slow down a bit just now...

10:32 AM  
Blogger Amanda w said...

My mom has terminal cancer an is suffering with the exact same thing right now..I'm not sure how to help clear her lungs.. My prayers are with every one going through this

12:08 PM  
Blogger Amanda w said...

My mom is going through the exact same thing right now

12:08 PM  

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