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end of life issues

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Although I was asked to leave, I'm back. This is probably another sort of sensitive topic as was the last one I posted, but like that one, I have no other source of information to deal with this. So if you have beef that's ok, but I need honest answers. Thanks in advance...

Mom has been in the hospital for 6 weeks or so with severe sob, clots to lungs and edema. She is immobile and we have just found multiple mets to her brain. She is alert and aware for the most part, but sleeps a lot. Hospice will come when she is released (hopefully soon). She is on very high oxygen and gasps for air a lot, especially when anxious or trying to sit up.

She has very limited time. I am glad that she is not in too much pain, and she is not on morphine. She does not want to be on a ventilator. But I am wondering in plain english, how she will die? I am I am very scared that she will die by suffocation, gasping for air. That is a horrifying thought, but that is her main physical symptom-that her lungs are blocked by the tumor and large clots and fluid so she can't breathe. We have already had a situation where the o2 came off her face while she was sleeping and her pulse ox dropped dramatically in minutes.

If you have gone through this, please let me know what to expect and how I can prepare. Thanks


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Disclaimer: this may make some of you uncomfortable and if so, I apologize.

My Mom died of lung cancer on May 24, 2005. I, too, was very frightened about what to expect. I feel complete empathy for you as you are left to wonder about what is to come.

There are resources available on the internet (consider googling death and dying, for example), do make use of the hospice services (they often have pamphlets as ours did that explain the end-of-life stages) and do not be afraid to ask questions of caregivers.

My Mom's actual death was very peaceful and dare I say, beautiful. Her breathing slowed, became visibly shallower (10-15 minutes prior) and then after some very episodic breaths (2-3 minutes), she died. This stage was not as bad as I had expected it to be.

I will be frank with you to say that there were some very difficult moments in the hours leading up to her death that were very stressful on us. As prepared as we were, there were still things we did not expect. You are right to want to be prepared!

I hope this is of some help to you.


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I just wanted to share my thoughts with you as well. My mom's experience was very similar to Kel's mom. I was so worried, as was my mom, how things would be in the end. My mother was not on a ventilator, we are v. thankful for that as she would not have been able to speak to us in the last week of her life. The onc assured us that my mom would be put on a morphine drip and that we could control the dosage, if she needed more, she got it and that helped tremendously when she was struggling a bit.

When the last day came, I spoke v. frequently with the nurses and asked them whether or not we should up the morphine drip. They told me truthfully when she was really ok and it wasn't necessary. I am v. thankful I trusted them as much as I did; I am not sure how I would have made it through the end if I hadn't. When the end did come, my mom's breaths became less frequent until they were no more. There was no struggling or pain like we had feared. I will say that throughout the last week of her life, I looked for every sign possible for her last breath and that was very stressful. But ask as many questions as you need to, your mom's comfort is the number one priority.

Prayers for your mom and family at this difficult time.


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I to am very sorry to hear your mother isn't doing well.

In my experience, I don't think you can EVER be prepared. Each and ever death is different. :cry:

I lost my father, mother and sister and many dear friends, to lung cancer, and in all cases, none of us were prepared for the end or what to expect during that time. Each one of them was different in the weeks leading up to there deaths and in there final moments here on earth. I think in most cases, they just drift off into a coma and pass peacefully. But, that's not in ALL cases.

I too say, you should ask the Hospice people or talk to the nurses that are caring for your mom.

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I am so sorry that your mother isn't doing well. I will keep her in my prayers. As others have stated, death comes very differently for each person. I have lost a husband and a close friend to lung cancer and both death experiences were very different. I am glad that you are seeking the help of Hospice. You will find them to be a very helpful and caring organization. They have so much information to offer you that will prove to be very helpful. I know your mom isn't home yet, so you don't have the information. You might try a Hospice website to get some information in the meantime. I know that someone from this board had once posted a site that had a lot of information about death and dying issues. Maybe someone will be kind enough to repost the address.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am really looking forward to hospice coming home with mom (and for her to get out of that gloomy hospital). My family and I have spent so much time trying to mentally and emotionally prepare for death that I never thought to ask how will it physically happen. And mom is anxious about it too as she has begun to ask to be assured that she will not be in pain etc. We tell her she won't, but it seems everyone is a little different. I am just hoping and praying for a peaceful and like Kel's mom's "beautiful" situation.

thanks everyone


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Sending caring thoughts and strength to you, your mom, and the rest of your family. Also want to let you know I'm kind of glad you asked the question. It's been in the back of my mind and reading other people's responses here has lessened some of my own fears. Thanks.


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Hi Ellie,

I haven't been here at LCSC much in the last year, it has been so hard to come back, but I want to tell you this. I hope it will help you.

I have lost my husband and mother in the last year to LC. They both died here in my house, with the help of hospice. Hospice is wonderful and very compassionate. They will help you and your mom to die with dignity and peace.(and pain free) Being home is so much better than in a hospital. It will be hard on you at times, but just being there and holding her hand when you want to will be a comfort to you and her.

It will also give you a peaceful feeling knowing that your mom wants to be with you when she passes from this world to the next. I felt like I helped my husband and mom go on and not be afraid to leave their sick and dying bodies, but to go toward the light and go with God!

Take care and God Bless you both!


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I am so sorry for your troubles. Hospice will help and the nurse should be able to explain her experience. I would definately ask, it may set your mind at ease. I have gone through this two times and both times, the end was peaceful.


My mother just went to bed, slipped into a coma, and faded away but it took her about two days. There was no apparent struggle during the coma.

She may have "helped herself" out, I will never known for sure. I was told that a stroke or heart attack is not uncommon at the end. All it takes is one of those blood clots busting loose.

My husband collapsed - there were a few uncomfortable minutes (10 minutes at most)I don't want to go into, then he went into a coma, very quiet and peaceful, no stuggle with breathing, he was on "automatic" as is described in www.crossingthecreek.com". He just slowed down and stopped. It was about 45 minutes total. In both cases, they were unconcieous and at ease when they passed.

I don't think there is a lot you can do to prepare. Be kind. Soft music. Stay with her if you can.

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This has been tough to read...

I remember 18 years ago when my grandfather died of lung cancer in the last 24 hours or so everyone knew it was going to be soon. Many family members gathered in the home of my grandparents. In the last 45 minutes or so when his breathing was slowing down we all gathered around the bed said a prayer and sang Amazing Grace. We had a wonderful nurse from our church make sure he had his pain meds for that day and watch over him. He looked up at my grandmother, wiggled his nose like he always did to be silly, and closed his eyes and exhaled.

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I am sorry for what you are going through....

My Dad was placed on Morphine the last 5 days of his life... this helped with the "anxcious" breathing you speak of.... the doctors told us without it he would become quite agitated and struggle for breath which is what we did not want to happen. He was not asleep the entire 5 days, he drifted in and out and was able to visit with us.... the last 24 hours he really did not wake up.... we spoke with him constantly and told him it was okay for him to leave....we understood his need to go. The end was peaceful and there was no struggle, no pain... even the nurse pointed out to us that his hands were resting very comfortable on his chest.... she said that is a good indication of his lack of distress.... when patients are not comfortable they tend to tense up their hands or make fists... (something you might watch for). Again, I am sorry you have to travel down this path... but I wish peace for you and my prayers are with you.

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Ellie, I hope you got the answers and support you needed. it has been oddly calming for me to read these accounts, never having been in the situation. I hope they helped you. I am sending all good thoughts for your mother's easy transition, and your peace of mind.



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