My mom passed away 17 Dec, 2011, and the guilt is still eating me up. She had always told us she didn't want to be "kept alive" and she didn't want a treach in her throat, and we (me and brother and sisters) ended up allowing both to happen. She was already on oxygen, so when she couldn't breath at all, we called an ambulance and she went straight to the ER. By the time we got there, she had a breathing tube taped to her mouth. They said she almost died. She was admitted to the ER where she promptly contracted a flu like virus so strong (and she was so weak) that she couldn't fight it. After many tests, xrays, inserting the treachea (she actually woke up with her hands tied down so that she couldn't pull it out...I'll never forget the look in her eyes)the docs told us because of the severity of the virus, her kidneys had stopped functioning and the condition of her lungs, there was nothing else they could do for her. She had been in the ER for 30 days. I remember her looking at me (she couldn't speak) and begging me with her eyes to make it stop. We had to make the decision to let her go. They turned everything off and turned the morphine on - she never opened her eyes again. We sat by her side for two days and 2 nights. Watching the monitors go down, and hearing the sounds they make when there is an emergency. Only this time no one came running. We saw the "flat line". And guess what? It started back up again. The doc told us this is normal. It goes flat and starts back up several times before it stays flat and the person is pronounced dead. It would have been nice to know this before hand, as this still gives me nightmares. Did we do the right thing? I really don't know. It just seems like one thing happened after the other, so fast, that we didn't really have time to think about it. We just knew we wanted our mom, so I guess we may have been selfish in that aspect. My guilt is that because of our, no, MY selfishness, my mom probably went thru suffering and pain that wasn't necessary. I should have been strong enough to respect her wishes, as I am the eldest daughter. She always said she didn't want to die in a hospital, and I failed her. And now that we're approaching her 1-year anniversary (Dec 17th), I'm trying to bring up the spirits of my brother and sisters...and I'm having a really hard time of it myself. I miss her so much my heart physically hurts...
Oh Pat, your story is the flip side of mine. We lost our mama last year on Dec. 15th. She had parkinson's and her decline was rapid. She had a living will and after seeing my sister's mother-in-law live in bed, not knowing night from day, three years on a feeding tube, she asked us to never let that happen to her. She aspirated on Dec. 4 and we went to the hospital. They tried swallow tests and with every attempt, she aspirated again. It is a terrible sound to hear someone drowning while above water. She quickly developed pneumonia due to the aspiration. We had to make the decision to exercise the living will. I brought her back to my home because I was already set up with hospital bed. With the help of hospice and an amply supply of morphine and ativan, she lived 10 days slowly getting weaker and weaker. Finally dehydration took her life. I wake up nights in a sweat feeling like I murdered her by withholding hydration and nourishment. She was one month short of 96 so her life was long and healthy. But I still feel I let her down when she needed me most. We did what she asked us to do but I so wish she had just passed away naturally. I have thought about her so much the past few days as I relive the final days of her life. I miss her so much and am again sad to have another christmas without her.
Pat, I couldn't even begin to image watching my Mom die via machines. They took her off he heart monitor when I told the Dr that we weren't going to prolong life. The oxygen, IV, and catheter were left. Hospice wanted the IV and catheter out before he left the hospital. I agreed with the IV but not the catheter...it didn't make sense to me to have to keep "changing" her, just leave the dang thing in. It was explained to me that the oxygen really wasn't prolonging her life, just helping her be comfortable.
I think the hardest part was not being able to help my Mom, and she couldn't tell me what to do, even though I knew what to do. Maybe, that's part of the regret feelings...seeing her in that condition and not being able to do anything about it.
Dec 16th, will be 19 years since Mom's first stroke, and I can remember those weeks like it was yesterday...doesn't seem like that long ago. I thanked God for everyday that he let Mom stay with us. Guess He knew we needed her no matter how bad the stroke affected her physically. Dec 18 will be 6 months since the second stroke took her, and those weeks seem like an hour ago.
I watched Daddy suffer for several months before he died, then watched Mom. I often wonder why God could let such things happen...maybe it's to help me; I know that watching Daddy changed me and taking care of Mom all these years definitely changed me. Still, it was hard not to question why He would make such a beautiful soul suffer so long?
We will never stop missing our sweet Mom's, that's the one thing that is for sure...................