Oct 14, 2003 - 8:35 am
My Dad is literally changing his mind from one day to the next about continuing treatment. When he is feeling good, he talks positively about beating the odds, but when he is feeling bad, he says he wants to die. Last Thursday he checked himself into the hospital because he was feeling bad & they brought up his magnesium levels. He was looking forward to going home Saturday when he had an irregular heartbeat & trouble breathing. He was put on observation & back on treatment for phlegm. Looked good on Sunday, eating & sitting up. Yesterday (Monday) I get a call from my Mom that they are going to release him today but that he's told Dr. J., his lung specialist, that he wants to give up & go on Hospice care when he gets home. I am asking what has changed & she says only that he feels bad & wants the morphine they gave him this weekend now every few hours. Dr. J. is very pesimistic & I think would let him die. His oncologist, Dr. O. is an optimist however and believes he's treatable. Unfortunately, he is out of town this weekend.
We're all on an emotional roller coaster with this indecision. I am thinking he is depressed & in need of medication & counseling since he keeps yo-yoing on what he says he wants & then the actions he has taken have been to get medical help when he can't breathe. I don't think he should give up when there is some hope of making it to remission & recovering. He's had his lungs drained twice & had an operation to try to keep them inflated, but only done the first 2 week session of chemotherapy drugs. When he says to me he wants to die I am feeling he wants to commit suicide, which I believe is wrong.
On the other hand, he is 72 years old. We didn't find the cancer, stage IV metastatic in both lungs & associated lymph glands, until he was on the verge of dying from it when his lungs filled in reaction to the numerous (>100) large & small tumors in both lungs. He went from bicycling every morning to being so weak he is in bed or a wheelchair, is on oxygen, and is not eating, drinking, or sleeping well. This is how he was before chemo. Dr. O. had wanted to do concurrent chemo & radiation, but then didn't think he was strong enough for the radiation. Monitoring screw up with this first session of chemotheraphy allowed his white cells to go to crash to zero & he had thrush, mouth ulcers, infection & had to go on antibiotics & into hospital for isolation & get his blood counts & chemistry straightened out. It was hard, and can't guarantee that it won't ever happen again.
The conversation with my mom ended last night with her deciding to put off the hospice people. I suggested they wait and talk to Dr. O. first. She asked me to come talk with Dad & the doctors & I will do that.
I am not sure if I am giving the right advice. His quality of life is poor now, maybe I am just prolonging his misery, but for him to die because we failed to encourage him when he despaired?
Thanks for letting me vent. I'd appreciate hearing from folks who have gone through anything similar.