Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hard Lessons about Life

Well, I haven't posted in a couple weeks. My grandpa became very ill the very night of my last post. He is 83 years old. He came down with an infection in his lungs because he tends to aspirate his food (everything he eats ends up being breathed into his lungs). So, he was on the ventilator and became well enough to get off of that. Now it is found out that he can't eat anything at all because he does not swallow properly. So he has been laying in that hospital bed with IV's all over him and his oxygen on, not being able to eat. He can't drink anything either and his mouth has been terribly dry.

Now today the doctor called and told me he needs to be put on the ventilator again and asked for my consent. He does have a living will and in that will he does not want to be sustained if he is in a permanently unconcsious state. Such a hard, impossible decision to make. My uncle wants him sustained for as long as possible to be sure there is no chance of recovery, which is absolutely understandable, but I think it is has come to that point. They are putting a tracheotomy in him today and after that, I think the feeding tube in his stomach. My uncle does not want to accept the fact that this may be it. His anger is directed towards the doctors and the nurses saying that they are not doing all they could be doing. I understand, I do. I just don't want to be putting my grandpa in such terrible situations either. It was his wish to only be sustained once. But my uncle, he doesn't want to let go and I just can't bring myself to go against him. I mean, eventually the anger has to fade, reality has to sink in and acceptance needs to take over. But it is his dad - it is hard to let go.


Andrea said...

Omg, that is such a difficult thing to go through... I don't envy the position you are in at all.

My grandfather went through something similar. Last Easter, he fell and broke his hip. After being in the hospital for a while and then in a rehabilitation center, he developed pneumonia. Things progressively got worse from there. He wasn't able to swallow and the food also ended in his lung. Towards the end, he went into an unresponsive state, he wasn't able to eat, and he was just barley being kept alive...if you can call it that. It was truly painful to see him in that state- completly awful and undescribeable. He ended up passing on his own, after suffering a lot. It was really sad to lose him like that, but then it was also a bit of a relief to know that he was at peace finally.

I'm really sorry that you and your family have to go through this... I think your uncle and family will eventually come to terms with things and will let go when the time is right.

Take care.

julia said...

Urgh, this is a tough situation. I'm sorry to hear about it.

Is there hospice care at the hospital? Is there someone at the hospital who could talk to your uncle? I can understand his not wanting to let go, but if that's going against your grandfather's wishes, don't those override everything? I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of those.

I know my grandmother was on hospice care for the last six months of her life. She never had to have any extreme measures like a ventilator, though. They just made her as comfortable as possible until she died in her sleep.

Laura said...

Well, today they decided to do the trach and the feeding tube. My uncle said he just wants to try this to see if my grandpa can live as much of a normal life as possible. If, after this is done, we find that he is just miserable and bedridden, we will decide the next step which I am sure what that will have to be. I am assuming he will have to go to a hospice. I can't see him going back to his normal nursing home facility with a trach and feeding tube.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was much as you describe almost 2 years ago. She was 83. After getting her feeding tube (2 years ago) she steadily gained her strength back and is able to be fairly active and do the things she enjoys. She doesn't mind the tube feedings and takes everything including medications and liquids via her tube. It is a difficult choice, but the feeding tube has worked for her and given her a lot of very good days with her family. Good luck.

Laura said...

Thanks for the comment - gives me some hope for my grandpa...

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