My mother-in-law is near death! I have a question!

Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:05 am
Went to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital last night. She's 91...and took a fall at the Assisted Living facility where she was living. She had been living in the section reserved for Alzheimer's people.

She was in pain. The doctors told Nancy that there was bleeding on the brain; that the bleeding was increasing; and that it could not be stopped. They gave her no hope for recovery...and a morphine drip had already been started.

The pain was obviously still with her; she was not unconscious, although by no stretch of the imagination was she coherent. There was never the slightest indication she recognized any of us...nor that she could respond reasonably to any questions by family member or medical professional.

All she did was occasionally to moan; constantly make adjustments in position seemingly seeking a more comfortable one; and to make futile efforts to clear phlegm from her throat.

There was really no part of Priscilla there at all...just a bag of bones feeling pain and discomfort...and bringing pain and discomfort to all of us who love her and had to see her like this.

As with the nurses who tended my uncle in similar circumstances a few years back and my father a few years before that...these nurses here told us the amount of morphine being dripped was the best it could be. They were not, they told us, supposed to go anywhere near giving too much...no way they could mercifully bring her any more quickly to the inevitable end.

So she will lie there stripped of all dignity for a few more days...unless she is unlucky like my uncle was and last for a few more weeks. Then she will die.

There probably is not a human being on the planet who, if they had a pet cat or dog in similar condition, would allow this kind of suffering needlessly to continue. And if there are a few who would be exceptions to that rule...there would be others to condemn them for their lack of feeling and sympathy for the poor animals.

A horse in anywhere near close circumstances would be shot immediately.

But a human is required to suffer. Laws to hasten death in cases like this cannot even get serious consideration in congress.

Got any idea why????
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:12 am
sorry to hear of this frank, thoughts to your family
never understood it myself, we maintain we have so much control over our lives, but no control to die with dignity
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:14 am
@Frank Apisa,
I'm very sorry you're having to go through this, Frank. No, I don't have any idea why the law forces your mother-in-law to go through this. Please give Nancy a hug from me.
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:15 am
I have many ideas why.

They all stem from religion, some from politics, but most seem to come from this odd idea that life should be cherished even when it is over to the extent of keeping someone alive when they are clearly NOT..

I worked in nursing homes for 9 1/2 years, in situations just as you describe.

I have a lot of opinions on situations like this.

none anyone would like to hear.

Im sorry you have to watch this Frank.
I truly do understand.
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:24 am
@Frank Apisa,
If she lived in Oregon, a progressive state, she could be relieved of her suffering by a physician. Some other states are finally trying to pass compassional laws, but it tough to do.

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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:24 am
it's a real catch 22, we all know the why of it, what we don't know is the why of it
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:25 am
Ditto what shewolf said.

I'm so sorry Priscilla is going through this Frank, and the rest of you and your family.
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:27 am
In Canada what can often happen (although it is never directly admitted) is that the morphine drip (or other condition) is changed so that a peaceful death results. How do I know this? Because my father was a doctor.

Mind you I am talking about a hospital environment.

Are there similar conditions that might exist in the US? Perhaps you could inquire in the most indirect and subtle manner by visiting the various hospitals etc and dialoging directly and separately with each of the caregivers that might have such influence.

As to this specific circumstance, again you would need to inquire (in the most indirect and subtle manner) by dialoging directly and separately with each of the caregivers that might have such influence.

You are looking for a sympathetic ear!

See here:

Two sections of Canada's Criminal Code are relevant:

"14. No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given.

"241. Everyone who counsels a person to commit suicide or aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years."

The reality of modern medicine is that doctors do practise passive euthanasia; not all of them, but rare is the doctor that has not, at the request of the patient, the patient's family, or on his or her own accord, decided to discontinue life-support.
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:30 am
No. Not even Oregon will help if a person has Alzheimer's disease, as AD is not fatal in and of itself. Also, a person who is not mentally competent cannot make use of the PAS law.

Living through someone dying painfully is horrid. I agree that there is something very wrong with the way we treat the dying.

Peace to you and yours, Frank.
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:56 am
My sympathy, frank. I wish I could suggest something.
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 11:07 am
It's pityful, isn't it? To watch a loved one in such agony and knowing nothing
will help makes you understand Kevorkian. For Priscilla's sake I hope she
won't have to suffer too long.
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Frank Apisa
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 11:08 am
Thanks everyone. Nancy is holding up beautifully. She is my rock.

Bottom line though...is that the congress really cannot give this decent consideration primarily because of concerns from the religious community.

There are reasonable arguments for why legislation allowing for something to be done in these cases to hasten death...should NOT be passed, just as there are reasonable argument on the "should be passed" side.

But the reluctance to even consider the legislation...to bring the matter up for debate...is something else.

I'll leave this area of thought for now. If someone else wants to pursue it, fine...I will respond. But I will revisit this question soon.
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 11:14 am
@Frank Apisa,
Hey Frank...

Nope... don't know why either.

I've got strong views on this too...

My parents owned an old peoples home... I was brought up in my younger years around old folk dying, and the indignities of the suffering - not the sometimes indignities of being old... but of the suffering for many before passing on.

Some doctors... well, some will up the morphine until peace is found. My friends father died today from cancer - he's at peace now.

I hope for Priscilla, peace will be soon. For all of you. So sorry. Love to all of you. x
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 11:28 am
@Frank Apisa,
I watched and waited till my mom died from cancer .She went into a coma that lasted for several months and I sat with her a few hours each day and gave her permission to go because she did a damn good job with her family and deserved not to have to hang around and be in this condition. She left one day when I was sitting there talking with her and reading a poem to her. I know she heard me and got on with her journey.

Ive always been particularly critical of the credo of the CAtholic Church on much of this inane sanctity of life at all costs crap. Much of the code of law reflects the participation of Christianity at its most controlling.

I hope you can help her out , it really makes the grieving worth something.
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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 12:54 pm
@Frank Apisa,
I am very sorry, and, yes, it sucks.

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Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 01:07 pm
@Frank Apisa,

My sympathies.

We underwent your scenario with my 91 year old mother about a year ago.
We did consider a visit to Switzerland where voluntary euthanasia is legal under certain circumstances but practicalities were against us (even though she had a "living will" which asked for such a possibility). In the end the morphine dosage took its effect.

Your question was highlighted in an excellent drama on tthe BBC last week.
If you Google "A Short Stay in Switzerland" you will get the current links to the programme and debate.
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Frank Apisa
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:11 pm
Wanted to thank everyone individually:

Djjd, Thomas, Wolf (yeah, I’d like to hear ‘em), BBB, Chai, Chumly, Boomerang, Edgar, Jane, Issy, Farmerman (I agree!), dlowen, Fresco (been hearing about Switzerland a lot!)

I appreciate hearing from “the family.”

Very, very bothersome issue…this one!

Gonna explore it when I become a bit more deeply when I become detached from this current situation.
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:16 pm
I'm sorry that you're all going through this.
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:25 pm
I'm sorry this is happening, Frank.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:49 pm
My father did the same what Chumly's father did, Germany (and that home/hospital was run by a Roman Catholic order).

Your mother-in-law's situation in Switzerland would be ... well, she had have agreed to "medical suicide" with full conscience ...

All the very best for all of you!
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