I just posted this by mistake as an answer to someone's question, so have to redo it here. I am just wracked with guilt over not forcing the Dr's to put a feeding tube in my Dad. He was originally admitted to ICU with pneumonia & difficulty swallowing. After being given a swallowing test,he aspirated & was given a ct scan & was told he had esophageal cancer.He recovered from the pneumonia, I was with him 24/7 in hospital, and I asked many times for a feeding tube because he couldn't swallow and was starving. He wanted to live & recover, and fought bravely. The Dr's refused to give him a feeding tube and said "it would only feed the cancer, he wouldn't get any nutrition from it, it might get infected, or pulled out. They just kept him on a saline/salt water IV and told us to move him to palliative care after 2 weeks in the ICU and not helping him (except for the pneumonia recovery) As we were about to move him to palliative a Dr. said to me " you do realize this means we'll stop trying", when they weren't trying anyway, he was just laying there on saline and a small amount of dilaudin, and it was the Dr's who told us he'd be better off in palliative care! When we did get to palliative, my Dad mustered all his strength to fight through the sedative effect of the dilaudin and asked me "what happened?" After the aspiration incident he was mostly coherent, only sometimes confused. Before all this happened, he was in great health, still drove,gardened, went for walks, & had planned a vacation with me, even though he was 91 he definitely wanted to live a lot longer and had a strong, optimistic outlook. In palliative he only lasted a week. No nutrition, only a saline IV, and ever-increasing amounts of dilaudin which kept him asleep until the final night when the IV was removed because of edema/water in his lungs. I'll never forget the awful noises as he struggled all night to breathe. I dozed off for a minute, and the nurse woke me up and I'll never forget the fear in my father's eyes & the horrible gasps as he left this world as he stared into my eyes. I believe he tried to go when I dozed off, so I wouldn't see, but the nurse woke me up. My question is, to anyone out there, would a feeding tube inserted into the upper thigh (he was too weak for a direct line and because of the mass in his esophagus, this was the only option) have helped him to recover some strength/weight and possibly either gone home with a permanent feeding tube, or enough strength to have the procedure where they place a stent in his esophagus so he could've swallowed again. He would have definitely wanted either of these options, he wanted to live either way. I feel so guilty, and it's worse every night, I shouldn't have believed the Dr's when they said he'd get no nutrition from the feeding tube, and "it would only feed the cancer". Please, has anyone been through this and would a feeding tube have helped?
I'm so disappointed in myself, I love my father very much and feel that I failed him greatly. This guilt is worse every day and I will never forget those last few minutes of my Dad's life or the look in his eyes and the awful breathing. Also, the Dr's said that he wasn't suffering even though he had zero food/feeding tube for 3 weeks. Has anyone else had to go through this? And the guilt?