My mom is terminally ill. She has cirrhosis of the liver, caused by a condition know as NASH. And, recently she took a turn for the worse. Since last Friday, she's been in a semi-conscious state brought on by extremely high levels of ammonia in her blood stream - a condition known as encephalopathy. She is able to respond to simple voice commands. She can answer yes/no questions. And, she's eating when someone feeds her. But, she cannot carry on a conversation. She cannot answer anything but yes/no questions. And, her eyes, vacant and glossy, look right through you when you do manage to get her attention. She spends most of her time in a sleepy haze of pain (from various bruises and sores related to spending all of her time in bed) and itching (from the toxins in her blood stream coming out through the skin). The treatment for this condition is a medication called lactulose, which traps the ammonia created during the digestion process in the colon, before it has a chance to be absorbed into the blood stream. Mom is on a high dose of lactulose now, as she has been for a couple of years. And, between last Friday and last Monday, her ammonia level dropped by almost 100 points. But, at that time, it was still over 160. (Healthy people have an ammonia level below 35.) At this point, the prognosis is mixed. Mom could "wake up" tomorrow, regain some or most of her cognitive abilities, and go on to live for many more months or even years. Or, she could stay in this sleepy, itchy, painful purgatory, eclipsed by this veil of ammonia. Or, she could fall into a complete coma, stop eating, and die. There's just no way to know. What we do know is that if she stops eating, she will pass away from malnutrition within two to three weeks. We've known this was a possibility ever since mom was diagnosed back in December, 2006. We hoped that she would qualify for a liver transplant. But, unfortunately, her disease was already too far along when it was detected. She was never deemed strong enough to survive the operation, and was therefore never placed on the transplant list. Now, she's being placed on a different sort of list - she's being placed in hospice. I know my mom loves me. And, I know she knows I love her. But, I would dearly love the opportunity to tell her one more time, to share one more laugh, and to hug each other and cry together one last time, as would all of her friends and family. Please say a prayer for my mom. May God bless her. May God ease her pain. And, may God share our thoughts and prayers with her so they might give her solace on her journey from us to Him, no matter how long it takes.