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Maintaining after losing someone who was in-home hospice
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niteflier posted:
My father remarried and treated his new family as his own (no problem with that). He also didnt have much to do with his other children or grandchildren. A few months ago he went into the hospital (had cancer for 5 years) and the doctors could do nothing more for hiim. He went home under hospice care. I do not remember being there for almost a month, now how it came about that I was the one selected to give him pain medication. i.e. morphine. His family did not want him medicated and told me I did not want to see him in pain so I was trying to kill him. I had constant phone contact with a wonderful hospice nurse and confirmed with her prior to administering any medication. Long storey short his family said I killed him with the medication. I was watched him pass and was afraid to tell his wife and sister so I called the nurse. I think I was selfish, but I didnt know what to do (he had a DNR). has anyone had the same experience and tell me how they learned to deal the loss, the vision of him dying in front of me and the feeling I did not do the right thing by administering the morphine?
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susiemargaret responded:
hello, N --

i don't know how you were chosen to be the person who decided whether to give pain medication to your father, either, but you were (i suspect that your father had designated you the responsible person with a health care power of attorney or an advance directive of some type, written or oral, otherwise why wouldn't it be his wife who had this authority?). if he had wanted someone else to be making that decision, he would have asked someone else; he wanted you to do it, and that means he trusted your judgment. he knew that whatever decisions you made would be the right ones.

of course you didn't want to see your father in pain; i can't imagine that he wanted to be in pain. i think you did exactly the right thing, and i don't see anything selfish about it. your decision was loving and compassionate, and it is ridiculous for anyone to say that you "killed him with his medication." no! the cancer killed him. the drs had done all they could; that's why they sent him home under hospice care. moreover, he was ready to go; that's why he had a DNR order.

i'm so sorry that you had to endure this terrible loss, esp having to endure it enmeshed in conflict with others. i expect that their reluctance to give pain medication to your father was grounded in the fear that he might become so sedated that he could no longer communicate with them and they weren't ready to let him go. his death was inevitable, tho; the only Q was how much pain he had to suffer before he died.

i don't know how you cope with "the vision of having your father dying in front of you." i am sure that the passage of time will help. i am also sure that as the immediacy of this experience recedes, better memories will supplant these traumatic ones. in the meantime, try to be patient with yourself and to have the same confidence in your judgment as your father did.

your misgivings are unjustified. you have nothing to feel guilty about. your father trusted that whatever decisions you made would be the right ones, and therefore they were.

i send you caring thoughts and hope that peace will come to your heart.

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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niteflier replied to susiemargaret's response:
Thank you. My father did not give me power of attorney. After his family said they didn't want him medicated, he agreed and said he did not want to be medicated at that time. It was only when I was told he was grasping the bed rail in pain that I contacted the nurse and she said to give him pain medication. I always called the nurse prior to administering anything so his family knew that was what the nurse recommended. That night he was in such agonizing pain I don't believe he had the mental capacity to ask for or deny medication. My mental struggle. Did he truely want the medication. I gave a small dose, but by morning it appeared he was comotose - he died early that morning. I will never know if he wanted the medication. His wife has not contacted me, nor answered my phone calls (she has caller ID). No machine picks up either. I am asking my dr. if I can try another antidepressant - the one I have is not working so well. I don't think I will bother his wife anymore. maybe that will better for her. I will wait for her to call if she wants to talk to me. One can tell themselves they did the right thing, but sometimes the heart (brain) feels otherwise. Thank you again for the ear.
 
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susiemargaret replied to niteflier's response:
hello, N --

a couple of things strike me from your post.

first, you keep referring to your father's "family" as if you are not also his "family." i respect that he had a different wife from your mother and evidently was no longer close to the children and grandchildren associated with your mother. however, you were there -- he apparently wanted or consented to your being there -- and as far as i am concerned, that entitles you to the designation of "family" as well.

second, you say that when his wife and sister said they did not want your father to be medicated, he agreed with that decision "at that time." OK, that was then. presumably, "at that time" he was not "grasping the bed rail in pain" or in "agonizing pain." but subsequently the situation changed; the circumstances were not the same as when he had earlier agreed not to be medicated, and so i think his earlier decision was no longer applicable.

your father began to suffer what was apparently much more pain than before, so much more that he was bracing himself on the bed rail to fight it. altho of course i was not there and i am not a medical person, my layperson's opinion is that the pain was probably so great that he could not make a rational decision. i think this because of the fact that morphine was his pain med instead of, say, aspirin; this tells me that the dr(s) expected or knew from experience that his pain would be so excruciating that only a med as strong as morphine could come close to relieving it.

third, it is not clear how you became the person with the final authority over whether or how to medicate your father, but the truth is that you were that person. his wife and sister did not challenge that designation with his dr(s), his nurse(s), or the hospice administrators. (i'm curious why his wife was not the designated person, but that's an issue for another day, i guess).

as the person designated to make medication decisions, it was your obligation to make them if your father was unable to. the nurse clearly agreed with your judgment that your father was no longer able to revisit his earlier choice and that it was time for you to make a decision on medication, because she said you should give him the medication. you made that decision based on the facts as you saw them, and i don't think it is reasonable for anyone to have expected anything other than that.

if your father had been able to think rationally, would he have said that he wanted the medication? i don't know, but i suspect yes; in his place, i would have wanted it. so the important Q to me is, was your father able to think rationally enough to make a medication decision when he was obviously in so much pain? your judgment was no, and therefore in my view you were obligated to make that decision for him and you did.

to me it doesn't matter whether you gave your father a small dose or a large one; once you concluded that he was not able to think rationally, the critical Q became whether or not he should be medicated, you were the one with the obligation to decide that, and you did.

OK, after your father was given the medication, he went into a coma and died. was that because of the medication? who knows? that is not something we have the power to know, and in any event it doesn't matter. what matters is that the decision to medicate him was justifiably made, and it was.

you have no reason to keep second-guessing your decision. you did the best you could at the time, and that's the most anyone can ask.

i send you caring thoughts and hope that your emotional distress will dissipate with time. i am so sorry for your loss.

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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niteflier replied to susiemargaret's response:
They told me over and over that I wanted to kill him so I would not have to watch him suffer. My thoughts went into a tailspin

I was already seeing someone for depression and anxiety an on medication. They do not ask so I do not tell them this. My demons not theirs.

His wife, wanted to take over his medication after I gave him the morphine that night, but after what they said I could not allow her to be the one to give the final dose - I felt she should not have to make that decision - I didn't want her to feel what I am feeling now.

in my mind i built a brick wall a long time ago - over 20 years ago (for other reasons) and the last fours years it has fallen apart and collapsed. I did seek help and they have been very good to me. I am having a hard time rebuilding it. Sometimes it is better not to feel.

I am unemployed and have tried to volunteer at several places - no responses to my applications. I don't put my personal life on the applications..... I can't even get a position volunteering to help others or animals.....

It is hard getting up in the morning, getting motivated to do anything. I do get out - if only to tell myself I am normal. I try to smile as I know there are others having a worse day than I.

I believe that since his family (ok - his wife's family) did not want him to have medication I volunteered when the hospice nurse asked for someone to be responsible for administering medication. You are correct, they did not say they didn't want me to be the one to make the decision, just didn't want me to administer any medication to him.

I'm just tired. Thanks again for the ear.
 
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susiemargaret replied to niteflier's response:
hello again, N --

your father's wife and sister told you "over and over that you wanted to kill him so you would not have to watch him suffer." i'm sure it's true that you did not want to watch your father suffer. what i don't understand, tho, is why his wife and sister would want anyone to watch him suffer? why would they want him to suffer, period? as for their assertion that you wanted to kill your father to spare yourself the distress of watching him suffer, guess what? they were wrong.

your father's wife and sister had the opportunity to be the one(s) to decide about whether and when to medicate him (or not to medicate him). they did not take that opportunity, leaving you in the heartbreaking position of having to be the one who made those decisions. your father's wife and sister having refused to accept that responsibility, it was completely unreasonable for them to want the power to second-guess or veto any decision that you made.

their behavior seems bizarre and inexplicable to me. was it based in some sort of religious belief? (whether or not it was is irrelevant, of course, but i'm curious because i don't understand their thinking.)

i'm so sorry that you've had to endure this complicated and traumatic experience. i hope that thru your therapy, you can sort this out and will see that you have nothing to feel guilty about. i also hope that life will improve for you soon.

i send caring thoughts and my utmost sympathy, for both the loss of your father and the terrible circumstances you had to navigate.

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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chez1 replied to niteflier's response:
Hi N, I am so sorry for your loss, and just from reading these posts I would like to say that no one should want any person who is dying to be in pain, I agree with SM, that is bizarre and simply wrong, pain medication allows people to feel comfortable and pass away peacefully, the medication does not kill them.

I am also sorry you are having such a sad time of it just now,

I hope the therapy helps soon
Hugs
Chez x
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily....... Zig Ziglar
 
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niteflier replied to chez1's response:
Thank you Chez1, I agree and hope someone will do the same for me, but I wish my dad had talked about what he wanted. He fought so hard the last 6 years to beat the cancer. I posted again above under PTSD..... (trigger). There were so many things that I didn't understand while I was there, his families reaction, my role (I felt like an outsider), and I couldnt even tell anyone when he passed. I held his hand and called the hospice nurse. She said to wait until she got there. I didn't tell his wife nor my dad's sister (who agreed with giving medication). panic set in. i didnt cry, freakout, try to bring him back I called the hospice nurse.....doesnt sound normal. - tho I never claimed to be. emotional confusion.
 
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chez1 replied to niteflier's response:
Hi Niteflier, how are you doing today?
I think it is so sad that you felt like an outsider, it just isn't fair and I am not sure why you would think calling the hospice nurse was wrong, I imagine you had got to know her well in the past while. I read your other post, I am so sorry for all you have been through, I love your attitude to fight back, I admire that in you, well done.

just want to share i don't think of myself as "normal" either, we are all unique x
Take care
Hugs
Chez x
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily....... Zig Ziglar
 
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niteflier replied to chez1's response:
Hey Chez, thank you for the kind words. I know this will eventually calm down in my brain - slow building that brick wall. Right now I will have to remain on this rollercoaster ride. The hospice nurse was awesome and stood up for me several times during the times there were confrontations with his family (I did not react to their words - I believe because they confused me and I was trying to make since of the whole thing). I am thankful she was there to help.

thanks for the 'just wanted to share' unique' brought on a smile.

Hope you have a good day.
Take care of yourself too
Niteflier

Perhaps the Animal Spirit is so great that one day it may inspire compassion in the human heart. Nan Sea Love

 
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susiemargaret replied to niteflier's response:
hello, N --

your other post is at http://forums.webmd.com/3/depression-exchange/forum/8477 .

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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niteflier replied to chez1's response:
Hi Chez, how is your day going?
Niteflier

Perhaps the Animal Spirit is so great that one day it may inspire compassion in the human heart. Nan Sea Love

 
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chez1 replied to niteflier's response:
Hi Niteflier, I think I am doing ok, weekends are not good for me, I think I have too much time to think (and act on thoughts). The rollercoaster just doesn't appear to want to stop, there are so many up and downs that my brain doesn't seem to catch up, but it is now Sunday evening and I am looking forward to some normality tomorrow.
Thank you for asking
Hugs
Chez x
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily....... Zig Ziglar
 
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niteflier replied to chez1's response:
Hi Chez, hate your weekends are not so good. If you want to talk more, I am here. I'm glad you are looking for some normality tomorrow. Be good to yourself. only happy thoughts . I know easier said than done. If I could put snoopy dancing on the screne for ya I would.
Take care of yourself and I hope the rollercoaster slows down for you and you have a good day and good nights sleep.

like the ((Hugs)) right back at ya.
Niteflier

Perhaps the Animal Spirit is so great that one day it may inspire compassion in the human heart. Nan Sea Love

 
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chez1 replied to niteflier's response:
how good would it be if we could get snoopy dancing, that has made me smile.
I love posting here, the support, honesty and experiences that people are happy to share is amazing and I feel privileged to be part of it,
Thanks for the hugs, I take each and every one and hold onto them.
Take care and keep posting
Chez x
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily....... Zig Ziglar


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