Part of being post-menopausal, apart from dealing with the after-effects of depleted oestrogen, is dealing with failing parental health. Of course this is not exclusive to post-menopause, but is there nonetheless, a reminder of the natural cycle of life. My mum’s turn on this earth is coming to an end. I have good days and not so chipper days. All to be expected – I remind myself when I’m tempted to have a shouting match with God. Deep breaths and try to hold onto some semblance of normality.
After all the horrific tension between Dad and we daughters over Mum’s continuing care, life has taken a new twist. Mum’s health has gone from stability to deterioration over the past few days. Her medical needs are now being looked after by a multidisciplinary team: Care of the Elderly, gynaecology and oncology. Here’s the dilemma – Mum needs blood thinners to prevent the secondary cancer in her lungs from throwing out clots, but she needs clotting agents to slow down the gynae bleeding. As the doctors told us, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. It comes down to trying to balance the risk of blood volume loss versus the possibility of creating lung clots. The blood volume loss won. The blood thinners are history. Fingers crossed the lung cancer behaves.
Poor Dad is not taking the severity of the situation on board. Fortunately the lead consultant recognised this and called my sister and I to give us the unabridged version. In short, Mum will have passed on before the end of this year. The doctors think she has weeks, maybe a three months at the most. Whilst this was not unexpected, the news still came as a shock.
COVID continues to add difficulties to the situation. My Dad is now allowed in to see her in person, after over sixty days of separation. He has to be kitted out in full PPE. This is a challenge for Dad as it separates him from Mum, preventing her from recognising him behind the mask. My sister and I are not allowed to visit yet. The doctors have told us that when the time comes, and Mum has days/hours left, they will make preparations for us to visit to say goodbye. The chances of me making the 200 mile journey north in time are slim to none. I will find some other way to say farewell if that happens.
The one tiny silver lining in all of this is that the social welfare officer has had to back off from his incessant calls to ask about my mother’s finances. I’m guessing he is relatively new to his role. A more empathetic and experienced officer would have introduced themselves, empathised with our situation and Mum’s failing health first, before launching into asking about Mum’s savings. As the medical team have put a stop to the process of moving Mum to a care home his services are no longer needed. I won’t miss his calls.
Speaking of calls. I’m now back on red alert for whenever our landline rings or my mobile rings. I used to think “Oh, I wonder who’s calling?” whenever one of them would ring. Now my default thought is “Shit! What’s happened?”, only to get annoyed at automated messages telling me HMRC (UK tax office) has a case against me and I need to ring this number to resolve the issue, or that my broadband is about to be cut off – please ring this number and hand over your bank details. Grrrr! Mind you, I’m getting quick at running from my office to the telephone!
Like all things in life, this situation is temporary. Some time, in the not too distant future, the Dean family will move into a new set of circumstances to deal with. We will come out the other side stronger and wiser (I hope).