!GRAPHIC MEDICAL CONTENT!
Thursdays are the hospice nurse days. We have an amazingly wonderful nurse named Kathleen. She fits perfectly with us. She gets us, we get her, we are all alike in some ways and hugely different in others, but we get each other. That's important.
Today, after commenting on how great mum is doing, and how she will almost certainly be around for Christmas, she brought up the subject of "bleeding out".
You see, the big softball-sized tumor in mum's right lung which has crossed into her left lung, is sitting right next to and now also encircling, her aorta. The aorta is called 'the great vessel'. It takes oxygenated blood from the heart and distributes it to the rest of the body. When a tumor is adjacent to the aorta, it is putting stress on the vessel. The oh-so-important vessel can grow weak from that stress. Sometimes it can rupture. When that happens, all of that oxygenated blood breaks free of the aorta. It may go into the body cavity or it may go into the lungs. It is quickly fatal.
If it goes into the lungs, it will likely come up the airway and out of the mouth. Kathleen recommends having a supply of dark colored towels on hand.
I'm still processing this information.
It was a fairly sobering conversation. And it reminded me that while we have been enjoying this gently sloping plateau as much as we can, we have grown complacent. We now expect things to continue as they are indefinitely. But, really, it could be over at any moment.
And, for crying out loud Mum, don't cough!