Grandmom update

Mommom is doing better, is able to feed herself and walk around. Her platelets keep dropping, though, from 40 to 32 to 28. The best way to diagnose her would be a bone marrow biopsy, which she declined. Which is just as well, since she does not react well to anesthesia.

There are a few possible diagnoses:
leukemia — she would not survive the treatment
aplastic anemia — same
myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) — she could be stabilized and improve, but would not be cured

One last possible diagnosis, not dependent on a marrow biopsy, is a virus. The doctor thinks this is a possibility because her symptoms began not long after a flu shot. And it’s treatable by treating the symptoms, I think.

She has accepted that she cannot go home right now, because she needs 24/7 care and no one in the immediate family is in a position to give her that kind of attention, in terms of their own health/family/work situations, and is willing to go to a nursing home or assisted care, at least until she’s in a better state. But she seems to be stabilizing, in part because she’s receiving platelet transfusions. She’s not in pain and she’s in better spirits than she has been in awhile. [In fact, she’s harassing Mom to get more details about my upcoming trip and doesn’t understand why Mom doesn’t nag more info out of me.] While talking about potential treatments today, Mommom mentioned her own mother (Little Great Emily), whose life was extended by a couple of years via some very unpleasant treatments: Granny doesn’t want to be the same way.

Mom asked the doctor what he would do if she were his mom, and his answer was to make her comfortable if it was any of the first three. If it’s a virus, treat and then release when her platelet count stabilizes.

Typing those words makes me sad. Intellectually, I understand that Granny is almost 80 years old and has been in poor health for 20 years or more. She suffered a brain embolism (I think that’s the right word?) 30 years ago, and surprised her doctors by surviving it. Her lung capacity is diminished, a function of pneumonia as a child and years of breathing second-hand smoke. She’s diabetic, and disinterested in modifying her diet. But in my head, she’s the woman who organized the life of her husband, kids, and grandkids for decades, the woman I remember as being always in motion (except during her daily General Hospital nap).



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4 responses to “Grandmom update

  1. I’m so sorry to read what you and your family are going through. It’s probably not much comfort, but at least your grandmother is in good mental health, so at least you guys can still talk.

    • It is a comfort that Grandmom is coherent. She’s a little forgetful, but still plays a mean hand of rummy and remembers pretty much everything. We have to repeat things occasionally, but I think that’s a function of fading hearing rather than short term memory problems. It’s hardest on my mother, who by default (grown kids, stable life) has become a primary caregiver of sorts.
      It’s also a comfort that she isn’t in pain and she’s happy: content generally and when she looks back on her life.

  2. Anonymous

    How’s she keeping? Any updates? It’s tough stuff and I really hope it’s the virus. Keep strong and I hope your trip goes well and you come back to find she’s much more sprightly and happy. Xoxo

    • She’s stabilized and back in the nursing home. No definitive diagnosis that I’ve heard yet, but I’m thinking that Mom would’ve said something when I asked on the phone last night. Granny now does not want to leave the nursing home, while Mom and my aunt would like to move her to assisted living because it has more social activity. We’ll see.

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