Her dad’s lymphoma was terminal, so they stopped fighting death

Hi all, great article in the LA Times. I printed a few paragraphs but the link to the full article is below. Below sums up what most of us in the Palliative Care field already know. When patients are told the truth and able to have a frank discussion about their disease and prognosis, even though it stings at first, they are then able to take care of business which can be financial as well as social. The patient in this article was able to reconnect with 2 sons he hadn’t spoken to in 12 years. I hope more physicians realize the importance of these discussions for their patients.

“Our family’s end-of-life discussion was excruciating. At first, Dad didn’t want to admit he was dying because he was fighting the cancer as hard as he could. He had withstood three grueling weeks of radiation so he could get better, but it wasn’t working.

Verbalizing it — acknowledging out loud that he was dying — was the hardest thing for our family to do. Dad’s physician helped us discuss the hospice option with him. The doctor came to Dad’s room and told him, man to man, that guys in his condition were considered terminal. The doctor told him in the way Dad liked to get information: straight up, with little show of emotion.

What families don’t know is that once this fact is discussed and accepted, everyone can move on. All the pretense of trying to get better is gone. We helped Dad get his earthly affairs in order. Two of my siblings hadn’t spoken to Dad for 12 years. When they found out he was in hospice, they came to see him. They wouldn’t have been able to do that if he had continued the radiation and died in the hospital.”

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-hew-myturn10-2009aug10,0,6533033.story

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2 thoughts on “Her dad’s lymphoma was terminal, so they stopped fighting death

  1. What are your thoughts on end stage IPF and being on Morphine (2.5mg) & Diazepam (5mg)? I gave my father this (firsttime using this combo at home) before he went to sleep at ~11pm and found him dead the next morning (time of death ~6-7). It kills me inside to know that I gave him this cocktail together when he was in respiratory distress. The day before he was desatting and he had increased sputum with his cough and was sleeping for most of the day. He seemed out of it and could not eat. He was very dehydrated and was unable to drink much fluids out of his straw.

    He started hospice at home less than 1 week upon his hospital discharge, after new onset of right sided heart failure with severe pulmonary HTN/cor pulmonale and chronic CO2 retention with significant weight loss and immobility.
    Did I help him to pass without suffering? Was it a deadly mixture of opioid/BDZ mix in a respiratory failure setting?
    The caretaker guilt is very bothersome, especially for me (I am a cardiac PA and his proxy). Thank you in advance.

    • Mary, thank you for your thoughtful reply. You are not alone feeling like you have harmed your family member in light of comfort care. If it’s ok with you, I’m going to make your comment into a post and comment further on this post. I think many people will relate to your story and will find comfort to know that feeling guilty is normal and find reassurance that they did everything appropriately and out of love for their loved one (as you did). Thank you again for sharing a very meaningful time in your life.

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