Update: March 20, 2017
It’s been a rough few days for Ana in a variety of ways. Breathing is becoming increasingly more difficult for her. Even short walks (like from her bedroom to the bathroom) leave her totally winded. She’s having difficulty catching her breath when talking. Everything is an extreme effort. She’d been refusing to use the supplemental oxygen—until this morning. She woke up coughing and couldn’t get comfortable or catch her breath, so we brought up the portable oxygen tank which is very quiet and she used it all day (well, until it ran out of oxygen and then we moved the plug-in machine thingy upstairs).
She may be extra tired and uncomfortable today because she pushed herself on Saturday. She went to lunch with friends in the afternoon and to a birthday party in the evening. Also, she’s clearly needed supplemental oxygen for a while and I’m wondering if her body is so depleted that it finally caught up to her. We gave her 20 mg of Oxycontin yesterday morning (usually she gets 10 mg). She spent most of Sunday sleeping, but she was also very comfortable. She’s eating very, very little at this point.
There are other things going on that we’re desperately trying to manage. Her stomach has begun swelling with fluid and there’s really no easy way to fix this. The hospice nurse, Sarah, came by today and listened to her lungs and stomach. She didn’t hear bowel sounds at all and Ana had been constipated for a couple of days, so this was a little terrifying (we live in fear of a bowel obstruction). But, Ana did end up going to the bathroom so that was a moment of pure relief…until she started coughing again. Sarah heard breath sounds in both lungs and confirmed she has congestion in her upper airway (we can hear it when she breathes – her breath literally rattles in her throat).
I’ve been emailing Elisha (the Palliative Care specialist) and texting Sarah all day and trying different things. At Elisha’s suggestion, I doubled Ana’s oxycodone (the fast release form of oxy) this evening in an attempt to give her relief from the cough. Jim went to the drugstore twice today – once for an array of laxatives which Ana didn’t end up needing and once for a variety of items to help open her airway including saline and a small humidifier which she can hold up to her nose. By the time he came back with his second bag full of goodies, she’d already gone upstairs and I was tucking her in. She’s using the oxygen right now.
Today offered very few moments of respite for Ana. She slept a lot and when she was awake, she felt bad. She looks as sick as I’ve ever seen her (except for the first few weeks after her liver transplant). At one point, I told her today was the first day of spring. Her reaction was a kind of ironic laugh that broke my heart.
Someone told me that they noticed the Magnolia trees had begun to bud. She’d remembered that I was sad last year when the Magnolia blossoms died on the trees because of early warmth followed by a late frost. So, I trudged over to our very tiny Magnolia tree and, sure enough, the buds were there. I snapped a photo of them for Ana, but couldn’t bring myself to show it to her. I felt like it would be flaunting yet another thing she’s missing.
I find myself wondering if she’ll live long enough to see if the Magnolias decide to bloom this year – or not. Magnolia flowers only last for a week or two. It’s incredible, you know? They may live longer than Ana.