Quick Skim - I need advice about a terminal patient who isn't cooperating with his caregiver and seems hell bent on staying alive. If you can relate, please read on.
My 61 year old father was sent home with pain management only, no further cancer treatment, for stage IV lung cancer. This was almost a month ago. My mother had to arrange for hospice immediately because he never regained his balance or strength in his legs to stabilize himself and be mobile.
We have been expecting him to die any day now for the last 3 weeks. Two weeks ago he was worse off than he is now - glassy eyes, seeing the dead, not eating or drinking, and unable to get out of bed without assistance. In the last 10 days or so, he's sort of revived himself. He walks around, and he falls every single time. He is stubborn and refuses to stay in bed. Last night he was on a multitude of pain meds, a combination that any of us would be afraid of dying from, and he was up and around the house all night. He hid his straw from his drinking cup under the sink. He tried to go to the upstairs bedroom to sleep but said there were too many people up there making noise. He went back downstairs and said there were too many animals there. (There are no pets in the home, and the only living people would have been my mom and dad.) Additionally, he has mood swings that go from a somewhat somber acceptance of his mortality to a raging anger and denial of his fate.
Everything we've read about the signs of dying suggest that he should be gone by now. Has anyone else experienced this? It's just so painful because we know he hates being in this state. When he's aware of his state, he is embarrassed and scared. He would have preferred a more gentle death. But then again, this kind of fits his personality, this inability to succumb or be defeated.
What are our options at this point? If the pain meds don't keep him safely in his bed, my mother is going to have to move him to a facility, for her own safety and long-ignored sanity. Nobody wants that. Nobody. But what else can we do?
I thank you in advance for sharing your experiences to help others. I hope to be able to pay it forward some day.