My Biggest Regret About Our Decision to Remove Mother’s Feeding Tube

I have discussed this regret in a previous post, but am going to write about it once again because it is a very important part of this topic.  For some of you it may also fall into the category of TMI (too much information) because it is rather gross, but nevertheless this information is also relevant to our discussion.

We place Mother in the hospital on the Hospice Unit Sunday afternoon.  The decision to remove her feeding tube was made on Monday and by late that afternoon, it was gone.

After my sisters and I said goodby to our Mother, we decided to ‘let her sleep the rest of the way’, by keeping her sedated.  We could tell she was in pain, and decided there was no reason to have her awake any more than necessary.

By Wednesday afternoon the effects from the lack of nutrition and hydration had set in, and I noticed the change in her tongue.  It was swollen, and had a hard, leathery look to it.  It looked absolutely hideous.  There is no way it could not have contributed to her pain level. I didn’t ask the nurses about it.  I don’t know why.  I am usually attentive to all kinds of detail when it comes to hospital care, but I didn’t mention this.   A major regret on my part.

The next day I noticed that the nurses had brought in moist sponges on a stick. (I’m sure there is a medical name for this, but I don’t know it.)  I’m sure the sponges did some good, but my opinion is that was too little, too late.  The nurses didn’t talk to me about it either.

Recently I discussed this regret with a friend who is involved in a hospice program.  He shared something with me that I think is significant here.  There should have been more oral care done with Mother from the moment the feeding tube was removed.  If that care had been given, then her tongue would not have dried out at all.

I have no other personal experience with which to compare what happened to Mother.  I just wish that I had had the advantage of 20/20 hindsight beforehand!  Of course, there are no ‘do overs’ here, so I refuse to dwell on this and let it be a burdensome memory.

However, if my 20/20 hindsight will help some of you as you face a similar situation with you family, then it has all been worth it.

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