March 27, 2010 12

Personal Stories – Share your story

By in Personal Stories

Tell us your stories

– Share your experiences – both good and bad
– Read the stories of people in similar situations

12 Responses to “Personal Stories – Share your story”

  1. Lydia Kamlander says:

    I was privileged to be present during the last weeks of my uncle’s life as he died from bone cancer, which had metastasised from prostate cancer. He was in pain, which was eventually treated with morphine after other analgesics were administered, and gradually refused to eat and drink. He wanted to die. Instead of tube-feeding him he was given only a drip with saline and something else for fluids.
    I watched very sadly and despairingly as he deteriorated; first was walking (which stopped), then self-toileting, then use of arms, then eating, then head movement, then last, his voice and overt signs of consciousness. It was extremely hard to be there to see this, but obviously harder for him.
    I knew there were things that could have been done to prolong his life as, if he had gone on eating, he would have lived at least a few months more. He was in his late 70s, so not really that old, for these days, to die. The country hospital where he was admitted made the most sensible and the hardest choices for me.
    In the last days, he was given a larger, private room where I could also stay the nights. It even had a refrigerator and a couch and a cupboard for my things. Gradually, all the care he received was washing of his body, changing his position regularly and given pain-killers. More invasive methods of keeping him alive for longer were slowly removed. The most important thing for the very kind hospital staff was for him to be in as much comfort as they could achieve for him under the circumstances. The morphine was increased so that he was in a semi-coma to relieve his pain and suffering.
    He died in great peace without any unnecessary prolonging of his life even though I would have liked to have spent much more time with him.
    I am so grateful that the caring hospital doctor, as well as the nursing sisters in charge of his care, spoke with me constantly and carefully explained to me exactly what was happening and why and when it was likely to happen. In hindsight, they made the best decisions and I would have definitely have made poorer decisions or delayed those vital decisions.
    It was most certainly best for the patient, my beloved uncle, who was more like my dad to me.
    Loving relatives are not best-placed to make death decisions in circumstances of hightened emotion. You can’t let go.

  2. Charlie Corke says:

    For a personal story I can highly recommend the excellent narrative by Caroline Jones (presenter of the Radio National program ‘The Search for Meaning’, and the ABC TV program ‘Australian Story’) in her book ‘Through a Glass Darkly‘.
    This book describes the final weeks of her beloved elderly father following major surgery and gives a clear insight of the way in which medical management can come to dominate events at the end of life.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about this issue. It available from bookshops or directly from ABC books.

  3. Kerry McIntyre says:

    Much the same can be said of many aged people in nursing homes. My mother, aged 94, broke her leg 18 months ago and has not walked since. She is currently in high care in a wonderful nursing home near where I live. The staff could not be nicer, she is well fed, bathed, toileted etc. Despite all these obvious plusses, she prays to God to take her every day, and spends her time staring into space. She can’t see well enough to watch television or to read. I visit and have a chat with her every second day, but knowing how she feels, and that she has no future at all is very distressing. There are many worse cases who do not even respond to people speaking to them. I know I do not wish to have this happen to me and hope voluntary euthanasia is available before I become like my mother.

  4. Terry Hunt says:

    I will forever be grateful to the strong, compassionate and sensitive palliative care doctor at Frankston Hospital last March when my Dad was dying after a succession of brain bleeds and resultant dementia.
    This man and his assistant called us together and made it clear to us that we had options for decision making about Dad’s immediate treatment and care. They also made it clear that, in their professional opinions, Dad was in considerable pain despite the medication he was taking.
    Such was our grief and sadness that we were, before his intervention, unable? unwilling? certainly unready to understand that we could support each other in giving our loving and loved Dad a last wondereful gift – the gift of letting go.
    We were, very rightly, left with the decision and supported in the decision we made.
    Dad died peacefully and gently a couple of easy, comfortable days later surrounded by his kids and their kids.
    I don’t remember the doctor’s name but he has our gratitude forever.

  5. Barbarah Hunt says:

    My Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer on 9 March 2004. After 8 hours of surgery she returned to the ward and her first words to me were “I made it!” everything seemed to go well for the first week and then everything went wrong. After blood transfusions and months in hospital she was released into my care. Unfortunately shortly after we were advised that the cancer had now spread to her liver.

    So from mid August she was back in hospital and eventually was placed in palliative. Mum was a tall woman for her generation 5’10” and to watch her weight fall to 45 kilos was devastating. She told me on numerous occasions that she had had enough and wanted to go.

    Then one day I was advised that the doctors in charged wanted to speak to me. I walked into a room and was faced with 4 doctors who discussed with me Mums health and asked me if she suffered a heart attack etc would I like them to revive her. You could say that I was lucky to be asked this because Mum had sat down with me months earlier and said “do not revive me under any circumstances, because I will not thank you when I find out”. I remember smiling when I told the doctors what Mum had said and they responded by saying “if only other people realised this is the best way”.

    Approximately 10 days later Mum slipped into a coma and peacefully passed away. She is remembered with love and I am eternally grateful that she had told me what she wanted and that I was able to carry out her wish.

  6. Barbara says:

    Thank you for this truly moving film.
    I have been an RN for 40 years, 13 years ago after emergency major abdominal surgery my dear mother Frances, had a respiratory arrest. She was with out a pulse for 20 mins,and I believed then as I do now that in that time all her brain function was compromised. I made the heart rending decision to stop all further treatment and have all machines removed. The ICU staff were very supportive, the Physician, seemed surprised but understood and we commenced the final stage of my mothers life.
    I have always felt that if I had not not made the decision, I would have failed my mother in the last thing I could do for her, to love her enough to say goodbye.It is my love for her that guided my choice and although I miss her every day,I believe extending her life in a vegetative state would not be giving her my love.
    I have had long conversations with my husband and now my grown up children discussing my wishes, and I hope they will have the love to do the same thing for me if needed. We all wish we will die with no panic or pain. To slip from life to death, and only die once.

  7. Susanna Munaretto says:

    I found myself in tears watching this film. My father died earlier this year from bowel cancer. He was born on a farm in rural northern Italy just before WWII. He had rarely taken medicine or visited the doctor during his lifetime and was very philosophical about life and death. He lived in Ballarat on his own, paid all his bills and did his own shopping. Then at 72 he was operated on for a bowel obstruction and told he needed chemotherapy after the removal of what was bowel cancer. He said he didn’t want chemo. My siblings agreed that if he didn’t want chemotherapy then that was fine. We knew him and respected his wishes. The ‘medical professionals’ then accused my brother of wanting to euthanase my father. They said he had major depression and needed ECT therapy so he could make up his own mind about chemotherapy when he was not depressed. So against all our wished he was given over 100 ECT sessions. He became delirious and ultimately did not know who he was or where he was. He didn’t even know his own family. We went through much pain and ultimately he was placed in a home as he was unable to care for himself anymore. To add insult to injury an autopsy was performed even though he died in hospital. My siblings and I are still traumatised by this experience and very frightened. We never felt that we had any say. It seems to us that control is all in the hands of law makers and doctors. I do understand that the program was talking about the very elderly when nothing more can be done but I just wish to highlight what happens in other situations.

  8. Peter says:

    My wife was 39 when she died following a long illness. In the course of treatment she was admitted to hospital on dozens of occasions. I was very lucky that she was in full control of her faculties and that her decision to refuse further hospitalization for medical treatment was respected by her Doctors. I supported the decision that she took but other members of her family did not. People need to accept that there is a difference between living and existence.

  9. Mary says:

    Thank you – I am 69 and healthy with a healthy 71 year old husband. I have ordered the DVD and will give it to our children to watch and then have a discussion with them re “letting us go” if ever the situation arises.

  10. Shirley Watson says:

    I would like to congratulate the Director and the team of filmmakers for the documentary, ‘In the end’. I found it a sensitive and thoughtful programme on a difficult subject. Dr Charlie Corke presented his message clearly and without bias. The filming was well balanced, taking the viewer away from the hospital environment to the peaceful scenes around Geelong. I hope that many hospital staff particularly IC Units are aware of the programme, perhaps it could be made available to them as part of their training.

  11. Dot Vasiliou says:

    My mother in law and my mother died 24 hours apart in Fenruary 2012. I was apprehensive about watching the documentary ‘in the end’

    I had numerous questions following their path to death and witnessed some very sad events. The striking similarity to participants of this film has enabled me to replace my guilt, fear and soul searching with peace.

    I suffer from multiple sclerosis, do not fear death but the inevitable body break down. Please let me go gently into the night.

  12. Susan Wirtala says:

    My 54 year old sister recently died of liver failure due to alcoholism. My other sister and I had no idea she was so physically ill. She lived alone in another town and had withdrawn from any but very occasional phone and birthday card contact with us. We finally managed to make contact and get her to agree to go to a hospital. She was in terrible shape and surely would have died within several days without hospitalization and all the specialized care available with specialists and ICU. At first one nurse strongly urged we withdraw aggressive treatment immediately as my sister had really no chance to recover. Thanks to my refusing the nurse’s recommendations, my sister got the time to have a clear head and a. have a palliative doctor tell her she had “a chance” to survive and she said she wanted to fight and try to make it and had the chance; b. had a several day visit with her out-of-state son and estranged husband and make peace with them both; and make her peace with God. She died after five weeks in the hospital. My point is that sometimes timing is everything. Don’t be afraid to fight for your loved one to give them time. Sometimes it is important whether or not we know it at the time even if they eventually die. And sometimes people make it. We are not God.

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