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Cancer Realities: Outliving Your Prognosis
Is this cancer? Dying in hospital for 5 days now.
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Elliott22 posted:
My fiancee's Grandmother (who is 90 years old) was admitted into the hospital the day before thanksgiving because she was jaundice and her stools were white for a couple days. She wasn't experiencing any pain. The doctors said that some sort of mass is blocking her kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder and preventing them from functioning. But they didn't know what exactly this mass or blockage was. They said it could be cancer or it could be gallbladder stones.

This last Monday, she was given an antibiotic, vancomycin, and my fiancée was in the room with her. Her Grandmother complained of a bad taste in her mouth, and said something wasn't right and said it was the medicine. All of a sudden her eyes rolled back in her head. My fiancée called in the doctors. Her Grandmother died for 60 seconds. But the doctors were able to revive her. She has a DNR but the doctors didn't know that at the time.But they didn't explain to anyone what was actually wrong, it was a mystery to them why she died. But due to these complications, she had to be put on a ventilator. She was taken off the ventilator Wednesday morning. She was on the ventilator for about 48 hours.

So they took her off the ventilator and she was breathing on her own, she seemed like her old self…she even ordered lunch from the nurse.
And then a few mins later, she stopped breathing and died, again. 4 minutes later, the doctors said that she gasped for air, and came back to life. How does this happen?! The doctor's can't explain why she died. She does have a pacemaker (so wondering if that has anything to do with it?)

My fiancée and I got to the hospital after this, and she was awake, and just looking around. Her eyes were really watery and she just looked like she had the crap beaten out of her. But she was alert..and she started talking. Her voice wasn't anything like her normal voice. It was very deep/raspy. But she was talking and attempting to have conversations with people. Everyone in the family was saying their goodbyes. She told me at one point that she might beat this. But everyone at this point didn't think so. Because whatever was wrong with her was killing her in some way. Her blood enzyme test came back & the cancer markers were 5x the amount of a normal healthy person's. So they said they are pretty sure she has pancreatic cancer. But they couldn't be 100% sure without giving her an endoscopy…which they couldn't do because of how weak she was.

So my fiancées father decided to take her off all of her medications and put her on a morphine drip so she dies comfortably. She had colon cancer a year ago, and had surgery to remove it, but has said she doesn't ever want to do chemo. That if she gets cancer again that she just wants to die peacefully. So since, it was pretty certain she has cancer, my fiancées father decided to let her die peacefully. They started her out on 2mg of morphine an hour….now she is on 5mg an hour. So she has been "dying" for 5 days now. Her breaths per minute at first was 6-8 and then one day it was 4-5…..but bumped back up to 7-8…and a day ago it was 12 per minute, and now its 16.

I'm starting to wonder what would happen if we weaned her off morphine and put her back on her medications. I feel like she is really fightint this. And the longer she takes to die, the more sad it becomes. What if she isn't supposed to die? What if she doesn't really have cancer? At this rate she will probably die of starvation — she has only been hooked up to saline and morphine for the last 5 days. But she is a tank, and isnt dying. She is stable and looks great. BUT she hasn't been responsive at all in the last 4 days. My fiancées father mentioned we wouldn't be able to revive her at this point because she hasn't swallowed in days..and because of that she would have to be put on a feeding tube the rest of her life, which she wouldn't want. Is this true that she wouldn't be able to swallow again?

Help!

Elliot
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Elizabeth_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Elliot -

I am so sorry to hear you are going through this very difficult time. I can't imagine watching this very strong woman slip away.

It sounds like she had thought ahead and made her decision of what she wanted to do when her body stopped working by creating the DNR and letting you know she wants to die peacefully. I understand it hard to stand back and wish that she could heal from all this, but the jaundice, stools, mass, and blood work indicate something is happening.

Hopefully, you can have some quiet reflective time with her, talk with her about her grandson and your future plans. It sounds like you admire her and I'm sure she appreciates this.

Please keep us posted and let us know how all are doing.
Take Care,
Elizabeth


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