Fear of the Aged #2

Mum 1985
Mum 1985

Heading down to the hospice this week to have a meeting about funding for Mum. At least that’s what the health people hope.

They hope that we can agree funding but get past actual placement for this 81 year-old.

Because this tax and National Insurance paying, born in 1932, ex-Navy, ex-British Railways, ex-Hospital Radio DJ, this former member of Lord Mountbatten’s staff with secondary cancer of the spine, diabetes and vascular dementia apparently requires a meeting to discuss the last few months of care and whether she attracts funding.

I was contacted about this meeting for the DST (Decision Support Tool, the decision being where does she die and who pays) by a kind social worker who was unaware that Mum has a secondary spinal cancer that has also served to compress the nerves in her spine so that she cannot and will never be able to walk again.

He was as unaware. This is not a surprise. Until a few weeks ago in August, I was told by a junior doctor, over the phone, that they had discovered a metastatic cancer from a scan taken on May 8th.

Yes, May 8th. This was the scan that the GP said was probably clear and that one of doctors on her Care for the Elderly ward (before she was moved out for further tests) told us was fine, “No secondary that we can see.” A letter in June from a senior urologist told Mum that, “I am pleased to say that a CT scan showed no other abnormality and therefore she is free of recurrence.”

During the phone call with the junior doctor in August I was also told that we should not expect Mum to live for longer than six months. A phone call.

I was not aware of this but six weeks is considered ‘End of Life Care’. Fair enough in most cases. So, this means that we have to move Mum from a unit that specialises in End of Life Care to a new place while I track down any confirmation that she has a secondary cancer from a system where the question, “Who has overall oversight of my mother’s care please?” is met with the answers, “Not us, she moved off our ward” or “I don’t know, I can try and find out.”

Mum September 2013
Mum September 2013
So, this is going to be an interesting meeting in which I attempt to make sense of medicines, bureaucracy, funding, ongoing care while not upsetting coalface staff who are for the most part trying to do their best.

Fortunately for Mum, her inability to walk due to nerve compression combined with her vascular dementia due to poor diabetes care plus her heavy doses of fentanyl and morphine mean that she is not able to run away.

Unfortunately because of the high levels of “pain management” she is also unable to quite get it when I tell her I love her.

Please leave a comment. Many thanks.