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When families fight about death....

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by I have WHAT in my yard?, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Songster

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    Over last winter two of my family members both got sick. One was an aunt who was pretty close to me and my siblings. She was my mother's sister and she had really stepped up when my parents died. But, her husband is another story. All summer long as she got sicker and sicker he refused to give up. He kept saying she needed to fight even long after it was clear there was noting chemo could do for her. She said she wanted to quit and live out what time she had left in peace but she kept giving in to his insistence that she fight. Finally the oncologist refused to treat her anymore. He, the husband, refused to put her in a hospice, and so she went three days with no pain meds and no liquids because she could not swallow. It killed me to see how his refusal to accept that he was losing her both caused her great pain and actually hastened her death at the end. She was a fabulous woman and I am heartbroken over both her loss and the way she died.

    At almost the same time another family member was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is the worst. The cure rate is non-existent and the relapse rate is high. In most cases the treatment is chemo until it stops having any effect and then hospice. Again, we went through this mess of people saying I was quitting too soon. After his first round of chemo the docs said it was really too late. The cancer was already in his lungs, esophagous, and liver. He was too old and too weak to withstand the level of chemo needed. They told the family that if he went through chemo again it had a 10% chance of extending his life, a 10% chance of doing nothing but making him ill, and an 80% chance that the chemo itself would kill him. Guess what his daughters decided to do? They gave him chemo and he died 48 hours later. There was no way that kind of cancer was going to be cured. The best thing for him was to be made comfortable and given the chance to make his peace. They refused.

    In both cases I kept saying that the choice should be the patients. I begged the family to recognize that they needed to put the patient's needs above their own pain. In both cases they could not do that. They both died badly. I have been present at the deaths of far too many people, but do know that death can be a wonderful peaceful transition for both the person leaving and those left behind. Aunt died in September and great uncle in early Oct. I still can't talk to any of the people involved in their deaths because I am so angry with them.

    Both groups are angry with me and have called me hateful things because I was a quitter. There come a point when modern medicine is not a miracle it can be its own kind of torture. Great uncle's family was told the truth but one doctor told them they should do the chemo because they would never be able to live with themselves if they hadn't given him that chance. A 10% chance vs 80% that it will,actually kill you what kind of chance is that? And that 10% chance was only expected to gain him a few months, not really cure him.

    So that is where I have been. I am sorry for those that I bailed on here, I didn't mean to drop you all like old news.

  2. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    Easier to be mad at you than face the fact they prolonged someone's suffering I guess.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  3. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    If the patient was able to communicate and of sound mind, the doctors were legally obligated to follow the patient's decisions. If not, the next of kin, unless there is a living will that gives directives of what kind of care & treatment to give & not give.
  4. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    You are very right that sometimes the cure, when there really isn't going to be a cure, is worse than the disease itself. My mom has been thru lots with four different kinds of cancer. I have always encouraged her to have a positive attitude and to fight with everything she's got, but I also know that there may very well come the time she says enough is enough. I will support her in whatever choice she decides to make.

    My MIL made the choice not to go thru dialysis even tho it might prolonged her life by a few months. It was very hard to hear her choice, but we supported her to go off her meds (the heart medication was doing in her kidneys and her kidney meds were doing in her heart) and have a peaceful end.

    Sometimes the best choice for the patient is not the easiest one for those of us left behind.
  5. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    It is such a hard thing. When my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma and then pancreatic cancer I fell apart. Dad has a living will and I know what his desires are. Even still it is really hard to not do everything possible. The thought that we wouldn't keep fighting was almost impossible to bear. He's my DAD and I can't imagine life without him. Thankfully, in our case, the pancreatic diagnosis turned out to be wrong. They figured that out within the week and fought the lymphoma like crazy. Today Dad is in remission and is doing great.

    All of that to say, it is a huge emotional decision. Immediate family tend to close ranks and do what THEY think is best. It is hard, especially when you disagree with their choices. In a perfect world everyone would do the perfect thing, but the reality is that we get clouded by emotion and do what we think will be the least emotionally traumatic. Denial is a strong force, especially when it comes to the death of a person you love.

    Don't be too hard on them. Yes, they made choices different that you would have made. But it is likely that they agonized over those decisions and still do. Sounds like none of them were ready to face the loss of their loved one and made decisions based on that.

    I'm sorry you lost your loved ones too and that the family is in chaos. [​IMG]
  6. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    When my MIL had her stroke, we all knew that she did not want life support. The hospital viewed IV fluids as life support, so she slowly dehydrated to death rather than more slowly dying from the stroke or possibly even recovering. I felt it was horrible! There is a big difference in providing fluids and hooking one up to machines that make your heart beat or your lungs breathe.

    For myself, I want every treatment tried and used; I'll always choose a slim chance of life over certain death; don't ever pull the plug. But that is me and my choices. I did and will respect another's choice.
  7. English Chick

    English Chick English Mum

    Jun 27, 2008
    Cheshire UK
    Sharon..... I am so sorry to hear all that you and your family members have been through.... and I offer my most sincere condolences on the death of your loved ones. The immediate family of the departed thought they where doing what was best, and in that try to forgive them the errors you belive they have made.... what is done is done and it will not bring them back, but what is left behind can bring about further dissention in the family...... it is difficult to let go, even though they knew it would happen, and they wanted to fight to the bitter end to hang onto them....and there are times when we put our own wants to the forefront and not the wants of the person lying in a hospital bed dying..... mistakes where in all probability made...they just did not realise it at the time..... Massive [​IMG] coming at you from over the pond.....

  8. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    Quite often when the patient wants to quit, they will simply not tell the docs not wanting to let their loved ones down. I am very thankful no one in my family is like that. When my grandmother died of cancer, she all but hollered at us to leave her along, she ain't takin it no more, back off, let me die and give me a cigarette. She died happy.
  9. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Quote:Well, a person choosing to continue their treatment because they don't want to let family down is a valid decision, too
  10. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    I would never take it upon myself to criticize whatever decision was made by the person who's legally responsible to make it about the patients treatment at the end. They have enough problems without having to endure others' many varying opinions and criticisms.

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