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Mother in law is dying.


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I have questions which I have been unable to get answers to. My MIL has advanced lung cancer and is in palliative homecare. she is currently alert. she weighs about 75-80 lbs and is moved from point a to point b. she is unable to stand on her own. Latley she has been having several blackouts a day which last about 30 seconds. She is on oxygen etc. and her levels are good. Her airways are clear but she experiences shortness of breath. She has had heart pallpitations. pain in bones and other syptoms which I had not expected and now I am wondering what else I should expect with regards to anticipating care needs and what symptoms do I watch for to know that death is imminent. Family will want to be at her bedside and it will take a few hours to gather them here?

Please help , I am starting to flounder and the family is depending on me to hold things together because we are the only family in the same community as her.

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From a personal standpoint I do not want to sound Morbid or depressing , but personally do not wait much longer to gather family membeers. You never know with this disease when time will run out. I did not expect it to run out when it did for my wife. Dana Reeves passing was suddenly not expected. You just never know, and waiting could make this rtask impossible. Best wishes, Many prayers for your family and your mother.

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:( Thanks, that is kind of what I thought. I'll start making calls.

can anyone let me what to expect care wise? should I prepare for anything. She wants to stay at home. The nurses don't tell me anything until crunch time and I don't want to be caught unaware. Getting information from them is like pulling teeth. Nobody wants to comit to an opinion. It's fustrasting.

I don't like having to track stuff down on a moments notice especially when I am with her for 12 hours a day and can't leave her unattended.

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prayers and good leadership to you. I Pray you find the strength to carry this through with dignity and the pride accorded to someone who has done their best against this beast.

Surround her with love and be the best example of this love.

You can do it.

Peace and mush love,

Eppie

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Do you have hospice care for her? If not, it would be a great help to you both. I am sorry for what you are going through, I know its hard to be the person everything falls on. Let us know how we can help you.

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Hospice can be such a wonderful help, so i agree with Ry about that completely...if you don't have it, give them a call.

Having worked in a nursing home as an aide for 6 years and spent many hours with family,I can say it's difficult for the nurses, also. I know that there were many families that i just didn't know how they'd react to the realization that a loved one may be getting to their last days. I found, finally, that it was easiest on them to just listen instead of trying to advise...maybe that's what they're trying for and just not getting it right.

Much love to you and your family and prayers for strength...

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we have homecare a lady comes in for the night time and I am with her during the days. Palliative care has been excellent. the palliative doctors and nurses come regularily to her apt. as well as resp therapist, lab techs etc. (We are in Canada)

I could ask for more daytime help but I want to do it for hermyself as much as possible.

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First,

I'm so sorry this is happening to your mom and your family. I do know what it is like to lose a parent to LC. It's so hard, devestating actually.

There are many "signs" that people talk and write about the dying process, however know that everyone is different.

My dad didn't have any of these signs. They told us in hospital that he had less than 24 hours to live and he held on until the last grandchild arrived from out of state---11 days later! There were 15 of us in his room for days. I was honored to have been there when he died, holding his hands.

There were no palpatations or labored changes in breathing, none of the major "signs" at all...

I agree with the others in asking your home care providers for their advice and experiences and to spend as much time with her as possible, because you just never know. I also advise telling your family members that they should be around as well.

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You may or may not see mottling of the skin in the feet & lower legs and hands. The feet and hands may feel cold to the touch.

My dad had increasing episodes of apnea (absence of breathing), some lasting 30-45 seconds.

Care wise, it is imperative to turn/reposition the patient every 2 hours to prevent bedsores. The skin breaks down more easily as death nears, and although they may be inevitable, prevention of bedsores is key to keeping loved ones comfortable.

If she can't drink or swallow any longer, the little sponge-on-a-stick things (I think they are called "toothettes" here in USA) dipped in water help keep the mouth moist. Apply chap-stick frequently.

If she's still alert, ask her if there is anyone she wants to see. As death approaches, often the patients don't really want a lot of visitors and draw their "inner circle" tighter. But if someone really has something to share with her and she does not want a visit, ask them to write a message and you can read it to her.

Gosh, I wish you the best. This is probably the most difficult thing you will ever do, but it is the most loving act. God bless you for your courage and loving care.

~Suz

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Sorry about your MIL,

You alreary got most of the answers needed,

but a phase a few days before death the person

could be at her best, awake, making sense,

talking and answering questions, up to a point

that you may think she is getting better, but

it is a stage that last from twelve to twenty-four hours only before the body starts to close in.

Jackie

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Thsi is another note from rsw1124. I lost my wife suddenly and unexpectedly on 1/23/2006. At 2:30 AM Monday morning she was breathing on her own. Her BP was 150/90 O2 was 97% Resp was good . Was sitting up so she could breathe easier. She had a breathing treatment at 235 AM. She passed away at 245AM That is how fast this diseaser can strike. Her ONC came in Monday at 7AM to get this news. The Head of Oncolgy who is a friend of ours admitted her and monitored her thru the weekend since he was On call. 10 MINUTES TIME was all she had before she passede. All oncs said she should nort have been there based on scans and stats.

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One of the best sources of information I received came from a hospice volunteer manual that I received as part of a story I was doing on hospice care. I'm not sure if those are available to you, but they are so helpful.

A friend also gave me a copy of "On Death and Dying," the classic by E. Kubler-Ross.

Being in hospice care now, I understand that often people don't say much because they really don't know. I have made it as clear as possible that I want information to feel competent. Maybe that will help with your caregivers?

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I think you are wonderful DIL for what you are doing for your MIL. I hope you consider Hospice as they are trained professionals for a critical persons need. It would certainly free up some time for you.

I pray for strength for you and peace to come to your MIL.

Hang in there you are doing everything right.

Bless you,

Maryanne :wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

it has been a tense week. MIL has been experiencing panic attacks. her calcium levels are elevated and she would only submit to 1/2 of the iv solution being administered. I am unsure how much of her aniety is due to nicotine withdrawl. about 10 days ago she up and quit cold turkey. she couldn't tollerate it any longer. (thank God, I got tired osf smelling like a dirty ashtray) anyway she has been unfocused. I am going to put her on a low dose nicotine patch and see if she stabalizes. I am getting fustrated with her stubborness about treatment and refusing basic care. I know that her calcium levels are going to cause her some problems mentally and that it will put me under even more stress. the doctor perscribed meds to hopefully reduce her anxiety so I will see how it works over the next few days but I realize they can only do so much with her.

She eats soft foods ( creme of wheat, chocolate pudding, tapioca pudding and the occasional egg seem to be the only thing tollerated.) she still drinks alot of water. She is down to about 80lbs now. she hasn't weighed herself in over a month so it may be less. All in all she is doing amazingly good comparatively. The blackout episodes quit as mysteriously as they started.

all the children have now been to visit. We are hoping that the weather will clear so that her sister can also make a final visit.

We have a lovely palliative care facility here but my MIL refuses to go even for a day or so to give me a brief respite. she gets very aggitated at the mention. She wants to die at home. We have nightime homcare currently and then I am with her during the day. I love her dearly but she is making things worse for everyone by her noncompliance herself included.

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Hi Henesey,

Just want to say welcome, I am so sorry you need to be here but you found the right place. My Gram was very tiny like you mention and we just gave what we could and didn't bother her if she didn't want to eat. The bone pain can sometimes be helped by motrin. It helped my gram when morphine didn't so you may want to ask for a prescription. When the end came for my Gram she was pretty much sleeping most of the time and would stop breathing periodically. I know how very hard this is for you as I was in the same situation as you. Hang in there and you will be so glad you did. It was an honor to care for my Gram and know I did everything possible to allow her to die at home as she wished. Please write if you have any questions of if you just need to blow off steam. Don't forget to take good care of YOU.

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Henesey,

She wants to die at home, so that may be

the reason for her refusal of full dose

of medication, she may want to keep alert

to say no if the time comes that she

needs to go to the hospital.

Prayers for you and your MIL,

try to get some rest for yourself

if you can.

Hugs

Jackie

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you poor thing. what a terribly sad place to be in, and I hear your struggle to find the balance between taking care of your MIL and keeping some of your own sanity. I have not been in your position, so I can't give real help. just know that your posts really moved me, and I will be keeping you all in my thoughts.

you're doing a great job, you know. really.

xoxo

amie

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