Would anyone here be willing to share their experience with congestive heart failure? I've researched a great deal on the internet. It appears that the congestion can come and go, although the underlying disease is always there. But the prognosis is really hard to pin down, as far as how much time the patient has left. I guess I'd like to know how you can tell when it's getting really bad, if you even can.
MIL was diagnosed several years ago with CHF. About 2 years ago, she was hospitalized with pneumonia (I suspect her refusal to use A/C and the heat stress and dehydration that went with that played a part in her pneumonia, although that's just my speculation). She got a staph infection in the hospital. After she was discharged, it was obvious that she was weaker, and she had that "shuffle walk" starting. After some recovery, she got a pacemaker. Physically she improved a little, but she still seemed tired a lot more. Doctor told her sternly, no drinking. She used to have a drink or two each evening, supposedly no more. We think she continued to drink anyway, at least sometimes. She also smokes. I think he also told her a low-salt diet ,but she ignores that.
Then in March 2008, she was hospitalized again. Congestive heart failure was really bad. She was in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks, had temporary dementia and a UTI. This time she was discharged to assisted living.
She is noticeably weaker now, and is mentally not as sharp as she used to be. Her walking is much slower, she tires more easily, she falls sometimes but amazingly nothing serious so far (won't use a walker or cane). She's eating better but letting her showering and hairwashing slide. Cardiologist says she's doing pretty well but must not drink. We're not sure if she's sneaking drinks or not. She is 84 years old now.
So there you have it. Any clue on the prognosis? I'm guessing she could have years left, or months, or a decade, no way to be sure? Any signs I can watch for to know if she's really fading fast? Are we likely to need to look for an NH soon?
The uncertainty is so hard. And so is the fact that she won't take better care of herself.