Does it hurt, Mum?

Mum wasn’t at her best when I visited her yesterday. For once, music didn’t seem to bring her much joy although she did visibly brighten up when she heard the first few bars of Perry Como’s Magic Moments. Old Perry hasn’t failed me yet.

Mum’s cough, a constant presence for months now, was frustrating her:

“This ruddy cough. I can’t do anything.”

Despite several visits from the doctor, the cough persists. Mum can’t understand why. Just as a young child doesn’t know why he or she feels unwell, so it is with Mum. Something isn’t right but she can’t say what it is. She’s still bearing the marks of her recent fall though her black eyes are now reduced to small bruises on her cheekbones. Yesterday, though, she was holding her jaw as if it was painful.

“Does your face hurt Mum?”

“No,” answered as if she couldn’t see the point of the question.

I’m not sure I believe her because I think she’s no longer able to identify pain or discomfort. The questions “does it hurt” or “where does it hurt” seem meaningless to her. The hurt does exist though. It’s in Mum’s confusion, in her inability to articulate what’s going on, and in my utter inability to do anything about it. And that’s a pain which just won’t go away.

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4 Responses to Does it hurt, Mum?

  1. Nick says:

    I am beginning to recognise many of the things you describe in my father. He is moving into a residential home tomorrow. My 85-year-old mother can no longer cope. After a rocky few days both seem to be puting a positive spin on things and beliecve it is for the best.

    • I’m sorry to hear this Nick. I’m sure today will be a difficult day for all of you but particularly your mother. Is the move to a residential home permanent or for respite care?

  2. frangipani says:

    I know exactly what you mean – we know they are not well, but the doctors don’t seem to take it seriously. And it is so hard to figure where the problem is.

    • The inability to communicate is perhaps the hardest aspect. That Mum has no memory of wonderfully happy family times is sad but not being able to have a conversation is where it gets me.

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