Dying and the kindness of strangers

Note: Not a game-related post.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about getting old and the ordeals my elderly mother is going through due to illness. It has obviously been a difficult and painful process for her, and it’s been a confusing, frustrating and sad process for the family. Since then I’ve sent a few updates via Twitter.

In response to the post and the tweets I’ve received a lot of support and advise from established blog readers, twitter friends and complete strangers. A lot of it has been carried out through private channels. People I really don’t know have contacted me and offered professional advice that has been very helpful. Other people have offered support and sympathy which has also been very helpful.

I’ve been moved more than I can say by these responses. You’ve renewed my faith in people, a faith that has really taken a beating over the years. Granted I generally lose faith over silly things, like trolling in MMO message boards, but I’d started to assume that was just how people are. But now I am reminded that when the topic turns serious people are inherently good.

For all the advice, support, positive vibes and restoring my faith in people, I thank you all.

Yesterday we put my mom on Roxinal, which is what they call an end-of-life tranquilizer. Its purpose is to take away her pain and distress during her last few days. On Thursday the hospital discharged her to the care center she’d been at since they couldn’t do anything for her the care center couldn’t do, and she’d be more comfortable there. Unfortunately we took that as a good sign, not understanding what they meant was that she was dying. Friday afternoon the nurse at the care center called to tell us she was in a very bad way. They could send her back to the hospital for “aggressive treatment” but the chances of a recovery were very slim. In the meanwhile my mom’s mental state had deteriorated to a point where she was terrified, not knowing where she was, crying and screaming in fear. Her physical state was continuing to deteriorate as well. My brother made the call to go with the Roxinal, supported by myself and my mom’s younger sister. The process my mom is going through is very similar to the process her mom went through and she made the same call in her mother’s case.

So now we wait. She isn’t on feeding tubes or anything of that nature (she always told us she didn’t want to be kept alive via machines) so I don’t expect it will take long. I can only hope that her end comes quickly, but if it doesn’t we at least know her fear and pain has ended.

15 thoughts on “Dying and the kindness of strangers

  1. I’m very sorry to hear this. It’s natural for a friend to want to help in time of need, but I feel helpless. All I can say is I’m sorry and my prayers are with you.

  2. As are mine. She is more comfortable now. I wish there something I could do, beyond conveying my sympathies.

  3. It is tough. I took my dads death pretty hard a few years ago. He had a DNR on file, and was going through with a kidney transplant. He had a successful surgery, but later that night they revived him because the hospital said they didn’t have it in their files.

    My dad always said no life support, and all that. The hospital never called it that so when we went to see him with tubes everywhere we just thought it was part of the recovery process. The last words my dad tried to say to me was to pull out the tube. I didn’t realize what he was saying until a few days later when he passed away.

    He was on life support, and our whole family feels bad about it because my dad knew he was on it before he died, but we were all clueless.

  4. Thank you for your thoughts, everyone. They mean a lot.

    @Wasdstomp — One of our biggest frustrations (and causes of anxiety) through this entire process is how hard it is to get any kind of information out of medical staff. I don’t really blame them all that much; they’re trying to conform to privacy laws and protect themselves from malpractice suits. But something has to change in the system.

    We were told on Monday that mom would probably never leave the hospital. So we braced ourselves. Then on Thursday she was discharged! And we were all excited about that…clearly she was doing better than expected. If we were told “Your mom isn’t getting any better, probably will never get better, but we want to move her to somewhere more comfortable for her last days.” it would’ve made things a lot easier for everyone involved. In retrospect they DID tell us that, in doctorese, but we didn’t get that message. We got that she was getting better.

    I’m sorry you went through that with your dad. For us, this has been a long time coming and we thought we’d lost her a few times already, so while we’re sad, we aren’t…surprised. Losing your dad like that must’ve been awful.

  5. Hey Big brother…

    I’m sorry to hear this news. I remember something similar happening to my grandpa a few years back, and I was so oblivious to the process of dying that no one told me he was dying already until he stopped breathing after eating breakfast. 🙁

    I hope you’re okay, and I’ll say a prayer for you and your family. *hugs*

  6. sorry to hear about your hardships; my thoughts will be with you so that everything will be alright

  7. Best wishes to you, Angela, and the rest of your family. Dealing with the death of a parent isn’t something I’ve ever thought much about until recently when my mother’s started to remind me more and more of my grandmother, still I can hardly imagine what it’s like to deal with what you’ve been going through.

  8. My deepest thoughts go out to you and your family. There is nothing in life to prepare you for how to deal with a loved one in such pain.

  9. Keeping you all in my prayers during this extremely difficult time. It’s a good thing you’re being there for her as much as you can.

  10. My condolences to you and your family Pete. It doesn’t matter how old you are, losing a loved one is never easy, specially a parent. Take care of yourself.

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