Monday, May 28, 2007

I Think My Control Issues Are Showing

My aunt is dying. I am just waiting for the phone call. She was a strong, independent woman who loved life. She has been in a nursing home for about a year. I saw her three months ago. She didn’t know who I was. She was in pain and miserable. Her family had asked that she just be made as comfortable as possible until the end.

It’s weird but I keep wondering why it’s taking so long. If death is inevitable, do people hang on like that because they are fighters and don’t want to give up? Is it a conscious decision? If she wanted to die, would the end come sooner? I guess I’m asking because if I were in that position, I would be using every ounce of strength I had praying for the end to come quickly.

11 comments:

Judy said...

I see this with babies sometimes. The dying process doesn't take months for them, but sometimes it seems to go on forever. If the parents ask, we encourage them to tell the baby that it is OK to let go. To give them permission to die.

Your aunt may be waiting for someone - probably a particular someone - to say goodbye, to tell her they'll be OK, or simply to say they'll see her on the other side.

Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

I agree with the above. I have seen death---and the person sometimes "waits", or "struggles", for whatever reason. Sometimes one can't figure out the reason for the lingering. I am religious and believe that God has a purpose---but it's hard for us humans to figure out exactly what that purpose is sometimes....

DisappearingJohn said...

First and foremost, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as well as your aunt. I hope they have kept her as pain-free as possible (Hospice workers are amazing people at that)

I am constantly amazed by the number of people who "hold on" longer than anyone believed possible. Invariably, it is after a relative they have not seen in a long time comes to visit, or a family member says, "It's okay, you can let go" that they finally do. Many of the times the patient is completely unresponsive to the outside world, but it still makes a difference...

Not Nurse Ratched said...

I've seen this both ways even in my short nursing go. The weirdest was in my hospice rotation, in which a 100+ lady had decided her time was here and ceased to eat. But her body wouldn't die, and she was PISSED. She was a corker. I never saw such an energetic dying person. Anyway, someone outside the medical field told me that sick and dying people have their own higher powers, and in my experience that seems to be true...

Lynn Price said...

REally good point, Judy. I had a good friend dying of lung cancer. She told another friend who'd come to visit her that her family wouldn't let her die, that she needed permission. My other friend said, "Well, hell, Ann, if that's what you want, you have permission!"

She died two days later. Best of everything to you, MBA.

Medblog Addict said...

Thanks for your kind words. I had heard that people might need permission. It's really the first time I've been through this and I'm amazed that she has hung on for so long. I guess that's where my control issues kick in. I'm afraid I'd be like NNR's patient and be pissed because I couldn't die when I wanted to.

SeaSpray said...

I am sorry about your aunt MA. We have a dear aunt who is being reevaluated as I type because the cancer is showing up in her liver now although they said it's not over and they can still do some things even though they have cut back on her chemo dose because she has gotten so thin and can't eat. It SUCKS!!!

I have a friend who entered hospice last July and is still alive although she can't do anything but feed herself as far as self care goes. She counsels people from her bed and staff hides out in her room like it is a respite of some sort.

She has been ready to go "home" for years. Her only regret is leaving her adult sons but she it tired.

I think it comes down to a God decision that we as mere mortals just don't understand sometimes.

I know of a woman who stayed at her husbands dying bedside day and nite and he died while she left to get a cup of coffee. she was so upset about not being there. I have heard just as someone else here said that the dying sometimes need permission to go. Then if they don't get that release they "sneak" out while loved ones are absent.

In your aunt's case - maybe just not her time.

I wish you all well.

Medblog Addict said...

Thank you Seaspray.

Amanda said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your aunt, MBA.

My paternal grandmother has been trying to die since about six months after she lost her husband (who passed away six months after her only living sibling, her little brother, died). Considering that happened nearly eight years ago...

Today is her ninety-fifth birthday. I think if anyone could will herself to die, my grandmother could. Or maybe she doesn't want to die anymore, but has forgotten how to deal with the living?

Basically, I don't know the answer to your question about whether or not the end would come sooner if a person actually was wanting the end to come. I wish I did.

Mark said...

No one mentioned music to help people pass on. I suggest Therese Schroeder-Sheker.
http://www.chaliceofrepose.org/firstvigil.htm

http://www.dwij.org/matrix/therese_.html
Chalice-Repose-Therese-Schroeder-Sheker
Reviewer: A viewer
Jo Marilyn G. Neufeld "jodypraise"
As a hospice nurse for 15 years, I found Ms. Schroeder-Sheker insightful and "right on" target with her observations of the goals of a "good death". Focusing on a safe sanctuary for the patient and their loved ones including the peaceful atmosphere created by music allows the patient and their loved ones to speak those important words of reconciliation, love, and ultimate joy that the joining of their lives has brought. This video could be used as a background piece to any long term care facility or residence or as a learning medium for caregivers who want to create that "safe sanctuary".

Medblog Addict said...

Thanks Amanda and Mark. My cousin is talking to her, telling her its okay to go and that my uncle is waiting for her. Just heard tonight that her vital signs are improving, which in this case doesn't seem like good news. I never thought about music. That's interesting. I'm going to e-mail my cousin about it. Thanks again.