Talk about a bad week! {Update 4-18} - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Talk about a bad week! {Update 4-18}

On Friday morning my husband got a call from the nursing home where his mother is saying that her lungs sounded very congested and her oxygen saturation had fallen into the mid 60s (normal is mid to high 90s) and that she was being taken to the ER. So, he meets her there and they stick a BiPAP machine on her face. It's an oxygen mask which covers the entire face and helps to remove carbon dioxide that is created when the oxygen goes in because her lungs were not strong enough to do that themselves.

This is where it gets difficult. She was in and out of coherency and over 2 years ago she signed the highest level of a DNR order (do not resuscitate) which basically states she doesn't want any machines and/or apparatuses helping her stay alive.

Ken is an only child and his mother's only 2 sisters live in Idaho and California so we're basically left here to deal with this on our own. His mom kept fighting the BiPAP mask, which according to her DNR the doctor probably shouldn't have started it in the first place, and sometime Saturday (by this time really not understanding of her surroundings at all) she had pulled the IV out of her hand which was feeding her electrolytes and an antibiotic to fight the pneumonia.

Her doctor spoke with Ken and said that because she is ill and also on Coumadin her INR (measures the "thinness" of your blood) was extremely high, almost 10 times the normal level, and he was afraid that if he tried to reinsert an IV she would bleed out. Ken and I talked it over and basically decided that knowing his mom she wouldn't want to be like this, because even if she recovered from the pneumonia she would never been the same mentally, which wasn't very good to begin with because she had pneumonia last year, almost 1 year ago to the day, and her oxygen dropped so low causing brain damage then.

We made the decision to remove all nutritional support but they did manage to get an IV back in her which is the best way to administer the pain medication and anxiety medication they are giving her to relax. She's been without any nutrients since Saturday afternoon though.

Strangely her oxygen is still bouncing around in the 80s with just an oxygen tube in the nose but her pulse is very high. The doctor said he doesn't know how long her heart can withstand that fast pace and it is so hard to tell how long the process will take in these situations but everyone knows that the body cannot survive without nutrients very long. Plus, her kidneys are beginning to shut down because her output has dropped quite a bit in the last 24 hours.

Neither Ken nor I have been through such a difficult situation. When we chose to have her taken off all support on Saturday morning we honestly didn't think she'd make it through the rest of the day. It's agonizing to go through this. I'm just glad, though, that she's totally out of it and basically nonresponsive through this whole process. The last words she said were sometime Saturday morning.

So, anyway, this is why I haven't been on the forum in the last few days and I probably won't be here very often over the next week or so. I'm almost certain that by Friday or Saturday there will be a funeral and then we will be playing hosting to Ken's aunt and uncle from California and it will be crazy around here.

And our poor kids and cats - the kids stayed overnight at my dad's on Saturday. When he brought them back home Sunday afternoon we left the hospital long enough to come home and see them but my mom was taking them to her house to have them spend the night with her. She is keeping them tonight as well. We have basically been at the hospital since Friday evening with the exception of a few hours here and there to come home and freshen up. The cats, luckily, all have each other and are thankfully pretty self-sufficient. My mom was here yesterday for a few hours and kept them company so they're doing good.

Another thing we're struggling with is how to talk to the kids about this situation. They know Grandma is sick but when she does pass we're wondering what we can tell her that they will be able to understand in their little 3-year-old minds yet we have to be careful not to say anything that would possibly scare or confuse them. Our pastor came to the hospital last night to see my MIL and we had a chance to talk about this a bit, though, so hopefully we'll be able to handle it with the kids now.

Thanks for reading all this. I just had to get it all off my chest. Please be thinking of my family during this difficult time. We're heading back up to the hospital in a few minutes.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 10:49 AM
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My thoughts are with you. It sounds like your MiL needs to just go in peace.

As for your kids, I just don't know.... maybe just try telling them the truth. she went away to a very happy place for good or something.

Hope it all works out for you.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 10:55 AM
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thinking of you and your family

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 11:14 AM
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These situations are so very hard. Respecting your MIL's wishes is the greatest thing that you can do for her, but it doesn't make it any easier. I am glad that they were able to get the IV in so they are able to give her meds to keep her comfortable.

I did some research about talking to your children about death, and found a great article for you. . I hope that it helps you.

I am sorry that your family is dealing with all of this. Life can be so hard some times. ((((HUGS))))

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 11:25 AM
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Hugs and good wishes sent your way. It is so hard to lose someone close to you. I also think it is very respectful to keep her wishes up front and abide by them regardless of how everyone else is (or may be) feeling. Hard, but you are doing what she wished.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! We just spent a few more hours up there and it's same old, same old. She's totally unresponsive so she's not really "here" anymore anyway. I just wish the Lord would take her home but that's not in my control.

After we ran down to the hospital cafeteria for lunch we saw the hospitalist just as he was leaving her room. We asked about the nasal cannula (tube of oxygen going into her nose) and wondered if that is just prolonging the inevitable. He really couldn't say. The body just takes time to shut down. At any rate we all agreed on decreasing the flow of oxygen coming through the tube, not so much that she would begin to struggle to breath but just enough to keep her comfortable as nature takes its course.

Instead of waiting for her to actually pass away we're heading up to the nursing home where she lived (which is literally just a block away from the hospital) to tell the staff that she won't be returning and to pick up her things to open her room to the next person on the waiting list. That will make the post-death experience a little less hectic. We're going to go through some pictures tonight and decide on things to have up on the display board at the funeral home, etc.

As if everything that has happened in the last few days isn't enough, I talked to my mom to give her an update on the whole situation this morning. She's watching our kids for us today. Her cat is nearly 18 years old and physically he has been falling apart for the last year or so. I think in the back of her mind she's known the right thing to do for quite some time but up to this point couldn't make the decision to go through with it. She pretty much told me that when this situation with my MIL settles down she is going to have "Babes" (yes, that's her male cat's name - the vet teases her about it all the time) put to sleep. Please keep my Mom in your thoughts as well. Both of my parents are animal lovers but I definitely picked up my fasination for cats from her. My Dad is more of a dog kind of guy.

Well, I suppose we're gonna be heading out again in a few minutes. I'll try and keep you posted in the coming days. Leazie, thanks for the web link. I hope to have time to sit and read it soon.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 04:34 PM
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I will be keeping you and ALL of your family in my Prayers. God Bless you all and *HUGS* to you all!

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 07:38 PM
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Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 11:33 PM
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Hoping and praying for the best. This is not an easy situation for anyone I'm sure. It's hard enough to lose a loved one, but with all this added stress I'm sure it isn't easy. I'm sending you my thoughts and prayers.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 11:50 PM
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God bless you in your time of need.

I just went through that with my grandma. I feel you did your MIL a great service by respecting her DNR.

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