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Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:31 am
by ual747den
I figured this would be a safe place to post this where my family members wouldn't have to read it!

Last week I spent 3 nights in the Cardiac ICU and watched my aunt's condition deteriorate, it was so hard. I would stay overnight in the hospital and try to come home for some sleep in the morning after the doctor had come in a given us a plan for the day. Well the time came when there was no further medical intervention that was going to change my aunts' condition, she was alive thanks to modern technology performing all of her bodily functions to keep her alive. We had a family meeting with counselors and doctors at the hospital and it was decided that it was time to let her rest and give her the peaceful death she deserved. I had been a person that supported my whole family and try to coordinate between everyone to make this process as smooth as possible. We spent the day letting everyone say their goodbyes and finally the time had come, we had to prepare to pull the ventilator tube out.I asked the nurse to increase the pain medications as soon as the tube came out and we asked that the room be cleared of hospital staff. I stayed in the room and used the computer to play music that she would have wanted to hear, and the time came where my cousin (her daughter) asked me to play "over the rainbow", I completely lost it, all the emotions I was able to hide for the past week came rushing out and I ran out of that room and got myself together as quickly as I could to get back and support the family. After I stopped seeing signs of life I asked the nurse to come in and check her rhythm, at that point she said that my amazing beautiful 61yr old aunt was gone and she would call for a doctor to pronounce her right away. Her 2 grandchildren who were in the room both ran out screaming and one collapsed on the floor in the hall, it was an emotional firestorm and the only thing I kept thinking was I need to take care of these kids and be strong for them.

I had to go in and clear all of the personal effects from the room and finally the doctor came in and pronounced her dead. I asked the hospital staff to leave her as she was in the bed until I could get everyone out of the hospital, it was so hard.

Now we have completed the funeral and I just sent my last family member from out of town back home yesterday I feel all of the emotions hitting me. This was someone who I was close to and someone who was not supposed to die. She wasn't sick, she was strong, she was supposed to always be there but she's gone.

Does anyone else have a similar kind of experiece and what did you do to make yourself better?

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:48 am
by Kiwirob
Time heals. There’s nothing else you can do.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:24 am
by Dutchy
My condolences, it sounds like she was special to you. Good that you could be there for her and the rest of the family till the end. Its ok to feel like you do, take your time, talk about it. And as Rob says, time heals.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:00 am
by NIKV69
Sorry for your loss. You did what needed to be done for her and your family. It was her time and she was lucky to have her loved ones close to help her pass.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:18 pm
by DocLightning
I had to make this decision for my father. I was in medical school, so I extubated him myself. Once the ventilator was out of the room, it was so calm and peaceful.

I know I made the right decision, but it still sucked.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:27 pm
by Ken777
I can remember sitting with a neighbor's mother when I was 18. The neighbor had been going 24 hours a day and was about to crash. Mom went to sit with the neighbor and I stayed in the bed room for a few hours until she died. I'm now a believer that job one is to keep the person totally comfortable, providing basics (like water, liquid food, etc.) as the person wants. Living wills are pretty important these days, as is a person's desires for organ donations.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:54 pm
by ual747den
DocLightning wrote:
I had to make this decision for my father. I was in medical school, so I extubated him myself. Once the ventilator was out of the room, it was so calm and peaceful.

I know I made the right decision, but it still sucked.


Wow, I cannot even imagine. I don't think that I would have the strength for something like that.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:36 pm
by Channex757
It's never easy, is it?

My experience last year was different but equally disturbing. I've not really been able to talk about it up until now.
I received a phone call that my dad was in hospital. Then another, slightly more panicked one from his wife (remarried) that he had been transferred to a bigger hospital for specialist care. So far, so good.

I planned a visit to him and was getting ready to go when I received another call. His surgery a couple of days previously was a real Hail Mary job, and he was starting to fade. I therefore got my skates on and off I headed. The stress was starting to get to me and as I wasn't that long out of my own heart surgery this wasn't ideal.

I got to the location where he was and took the wrong route through Preston. Ideally you go past the town and come back into the centre, but I went through the town and got stuck in traffic. Can you see where this is heading?

I eventually got to the critical care ward to be informed he had passed a few minutes before. If I had gotten through that traffic faster I would have been there.

So any my point is....don't beat yourself up playing the blame game or doing the "what if" spiral of thinking. Life's not always perfect; nor are you. Remember you too have emotional needs at this time so talk your situation through with family and friends. Grieve if you need to. Being a rock for everyone is great but try not to let yourself get cracked in the process

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:06 am
by Classa64
Just wow , so sorry for your loss.

The pain is unbearable sometimes I know but you seem to have gone above and beyond what most people would be able to do in your situation, as was said the time does heal. March 2016 I came home to see my wife a wreck, she had just gotten a call from her dad that Mom was diagnosed with Gallbladder cancer they give her less than a year. She decides to fight it with Kemo and that kicked the crap out of her for months. She said that was enough and stopped it and bounced back a little but you could tell she was ready. Dad had a bed set up in the living room of there house, nurse coming 3 times a week, cleaning lady and during the last few weeks of Oct family would come and go. She stopped eating and was bed ridden it was so sad because she was the anchor of the family, loved everyone and everything. On a Sunday afternoon I had to leave to be at work for Monday so before I left I sat with her alone for about a half hour. I was such a mess and was crying, she seemed relaxed and told me not to be upset and that she was in no pain, I said Goodbye and left. The next morning I get a call at work that she passed away, My wife and her 2 Sisters and Husband were with her till the last breath. That's something I could not do.

You will never forget what happened that day but you will over time learn to deal with it and after a while other things will take precedent and it wont be hard to think about it or talk about it. Thats how it worked out for me, I am glad to talk about her and it makes me sad some days but it dosen't hurt anymore.

C

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:15 am
by ltbewr
I recall when my father passed away in 2007 at age 80 there were several critical circumstances and decisions made that made it better to deal with. He had a stoke in 2003 after an operation, likely due to an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia. While he recovered in part from the stoke with excellent therapy he was never the same person. Finally his heart condition got worse around Christmas Day 2006 and went into the hospital and nursing home and in the last 54 or so hours in a hospital and in his last hour in a hospice facility where he died peacefully.
The critical circumstances and decisions that helped us though it included:
Years before, updating his will and health directives that included not using extraordinary means to keep him alive. Shortly after his death, I also did a will and health directive.
Knowing he was reaching the end of his life, about 2 weeks before he died, we made arrangements for his funeral and burial site.

In a strange twist of life, my employment had been terminated in September 2006 and finding a new job was difficult (and wouldn't end up FT employed until Feb. 2008). I ended up spending most days in the time from then to his death helping my mom take care and visit my dad through his death, funeral and post-death work as to him as well as well as deal with work long procrastinated by my mom due to the need to take care of my dad for years.

While sad with my dad's death, that I was able to spend time with him and help my mom in the 5 months before his death and afterwards helped me to cope with it better. Sounds like you and your family did the right thing.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:18 am
by zhiao
To be honest, for my mother in law, I think we pulled it too soon. These opportunities don’t always come up.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:59 am
by tommy1808
ual747den wrote:
DocLightning wrote:
I had to make this decision for my father. I was in medical school, so I extubated him myself. Once the ventilator was out of the room, it was so calm and peaceful.

I know I made the right decision, but it still sucked.


Wow, I cannot even imagine. I don't think that I would have the strength for something like that.


I was around a couple of times when families did that during my civil service. Always very hard, but the overwhelming feeling among the family was usually along the lines of "this is the last thing we can do for our mother/father".

Some decades later that sort of makes sense to me.

best regards
Thomas

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:40 pm
by RoySFlying
I am sorry for your loss and can only guess what you might be feeling.

Each of us will have memories of people who we loved and of how they met their deaths. I cared for both my father and my mother when they approached death, one from cancer, the other related to dementia. Both died at home as was their wish. In some ways, expecting death and even seeing it it as a form of release from suffering helped mitigate the pain. But the sense of loss was still there. Perhaps a far earlier death helped me get through the grief.

When I was 19 and living in England I met Alan, the man who would become my friend, companion, soul mate and lover. Our relationship was against the law at the time but we didn't let that stop us seeking happiness. And we did share happiness. When Alan was 24 he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent some chemo, followed by surgery and then more chemo and targeted radiotherapy. None of this worked: secondary cancers appeared and the best that could be provided was palliative care. He died just after his twenty-fifth birthday.

When Alan and I moved in together, he had told his parents and they didn't receive the news very well. They didn't speak to Alan for the next five years. Despite this, I let them know that Alan was dying, hoping that there might be rapprochement. I don't know how far there might have been but from that day on I was no longer able to visit Alan in hospital and was kept away from his funeral.

I know that this experience is very different to your own but you can imagine that I was devastated, hurt and alone. My own parents lived in Australia. I withdrew, didn't want to see anybody, I was at risk of losing my job. Fortunately I had a very good friend, a no nonsense woman from Yorkshire who came round to my flat one day. She barged in and said, "we're going out." She grabbed a case and threw some clothes in and instructed me to fetch a toothbrush. I obeyed.

We drove up to the Derbyshire Dales and spent a couple of days walking. We sat on Mam Tor and talked, or rather I talked and she listened. It was the best thing that could have happened. The change in scenery and just having someone to talk to, to express what I was feeling, my fears for the future, made a great difference.

If you have someone that you can talk to, someone just willing to be there and listen, offer support and, if desired, advice take advantage of them. Words are seldom enough to take away the pain but just knowing that someone cares and is willing to stand by you can make the burden of grief more bearable.
All the best,
Roy

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:55 pm
by DLFREEBIRD
I'm so sorry for your loss, it's a heavy load. Not a lot of people can do what you did and remain composed. I'm sure your aunt is proud of you. Time heals, and you will look back at this knowing that you did your best to comfort family members. Like someone mentioned, it sucks, but it's part of the life cycle that we all have to go through. Best wishes.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:56 am
by sccutler
With you.

My Mom reached this stage - her lungs too far gone to carry her - and we had to pull the breathing tube.

She was gone in a couple of minutes, and my sister and her friend (a dear family friend) sang to her as she slipped away ("Someone to Watch Over Me"). My father was there as well, and it's the only time I ever saw him cry. Ever.

It was time, and she had strict instructions on not being kept alive by machines, but it was nothing I'd wish for anyone. Would have preferred that it not be in the ICU - watching her slip away with digital precision was nothing good. When my father passed, he was in hospice care, and the dignity of the passing was much greater. hospice nurse was a very special soul.

True story: as all this transpired, my wife and son (12 at the time) were in the waiting room. In the midst, my son told his mom, "They need me in there," and he joined us. Stepped in, and put a hand on my shoulder, the other on his grandfather's shoulder. Wise for so young.

After she was gone, we had a lunch and told stories about her for hours. then, my dad and I went for a twilight flight, marveled at the beautiful sky and told more stories.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:28 pm
by flyingclrs727
Over 7 years ago we had to remove all life support from my father after he had a massive hemorrhagic stroke after falling down in a parking lot and hitting his head. The CAT scans showed massive brain damage, and there was no hope of recovery.

The blood thinners taken to prevent her attacks or ischemic strokes were impossible to counteract when he fell and hit his head hard. He had fallen many times in his last year of life, and it was probably inevitable that he would hit his head. I even caught him once about 3 or 4 months before his death and prevented him from hitting hard on his concrete driveway.

The most difficult part was making sure his cardiac pacemaker/defibrillator was disabled. Apparently he had lost the card he was supposed to carry in his wallet. Fortunately the nurses station at the ICU had phone numbers for most manufacturers of implantable devices and they were able to get a technician to come out and turn it off before he was transferred to the hospice wing. After that we were just waiting for him to expire. It was really hard to be in his room as his breathing got very labored. We left to go home and got a call about 10 am saying he had died, less than 36 hours after we authorization to remove all life support.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:06 pm
by EstherLouise
I was the lead person in deciding my mother's last few days of care. She was in the local hospital and unconscious and was dying of lung cancer. I have an extensive medical background and my family let me call the shots. I think they were relieved that they didn't have to make the difficult decisions. I found it relieving that I could talk to the doctors and nurses in an professional, cooperative way to come up with plans of care that we all agreed upon. The plan was no machines and nothing that would delay death. The exception were treatments that could make her more comfortable. As mom's lungs filled with fluid and she puffed up, my only request was to keep pumping in the morphine to the point that it could be mistakened for euthanasia. I explained my family's beliefs regarding end-of-life involvement. No vigils. No revolving door of visitors. We'd all said our goodbyes months previously, so there were no tears being shed. That final night, the nurse called to tell me that mom only had a few hours left to live. I told her that no one would be coming in and to just call me when she was gone. She died at 3:30 AM. I chose not to wake up my family to tell them. I waited until waking hours to tell them. My family has since told me they approved, without doubt, of the way mom's final days were handled. I have no regrets in my decisions and am at peace knowing that I fulfilled mom's wishes.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:35 am
by zrs70
Oh how painful. I can’t begin to imagine the emotions you have been going through. Keep in mind that death can often be a gift, a blessing. Hard gift to give, but peaceful to receive.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:50 pm
by zkojq
Happening to one of my friends today I think. He had a motorbike crash a few weeks ago and the MRI & CT scans keep showing more and more damage. No responses to stimuli or anything, only occasional responses to pain and no temperature control. Family meeting was this afternoon to decide 'the way forward'. I don't know if the decision has actually been made yet, but i think most of us know it's about to happen.


I have no idea how to deal with this.

Re: Pulling Life Support from Loved One

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:33 pm
by Kiwirob
zhiao wrote:
To be honest, for my mother in law, I think we pulled it too soon. These opportunities don’t always come up.


I don’t think there is such a thing as too soon, my grandad had Parkinson’s and dementia, his last few years he was a vegetable, it was horrible, you wouldn’t treat an animal like this so why keep a human alive via artificial means??