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Old 07-23-2002, 12:00 PM   #1
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MommyNeecey HB User
Post How long can a person survive without Eating or Drinking?

Hello all, my aunt appears to be in the final stages of life and it's tremendously disheartening to see how this has happened (the downhill part) SO fast! She literally went from one day walking about - to the next day being hardly able to walk - to the next day bedridden.

She has not eaten in 1 week, and she drinks EXTREMELY little (as in a dropper full when her medicine is given).

The hospice nurse said it would be about 2 weeks (that was 1 week ago today). Her breathing is very deep at times with the apeana ocurring often.

The hospice nurse said her lungs were filling up yesterday.

I know we are doing nothing wrong by her not eating, but it is hard to know that she is NOT eating a single bite - of course you ask her if she's hungery and she says, "no ..." Of course now she can barely respond.

When they said it happens fast, WOW they meant it. It's so very sad. We've all been told to tell her to "Let Go" - and we have and she still lingers so she is proving to go on "her terms". ANd that's fine. We continually are telling her how much we love her and for her to go on to her new life and be happy. I really hope she can understand all what we are saying .....

I hate to think of the "hunger pains" in her stomach she might be having, as last night she was really tensing up like she was in extreme pain. We just keep giving her the Roxinol (morphine) and the Lorazepam (Ativan). We give these meds around every 6 hours.

Does anyone know how the "dying" body can survive so long with NO food or nourishment? I don't want her to "starve" to death, I want her just to pass peacefully!

Thanks for all your help and support.

 
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Old 07-23-2002, 01:41 PM   #2
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Jaytor HB User
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Hi:

A few years ago I was in a similar situation, sitting in a hospital and watching an aged family member die. Even a peaceful and anticipated death can still come as a shock.

Your question about how long a person can survive without eating - depends on how much fat reserve they have and whether they're receiving any hydration and/or TPN.

Take care,
Jay

 
Old 07-23-2002, 01:50 PM   #3
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She has "zero" fat reserve I'd say as she is barely 100 lbs right now (down from 170) and she isn't getting any water, just barely a dropper full with her medicine as she is incoherent most of the time.

 
Old 07-23-2002, 02:47 PM   #4
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The circumstances were quite different - very old age [~95] versus cancer. In our situation, by this stage of dehydration, refusing food, etc., it was about 3 or 4 days before he died. This was also when everyone finally realized there was nothing anyone could do - just sit, talk to him and wait.

This is really a bad time for you; good luck,
Jay

 
Old 07-25-2002, 07:49 PM   #5
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Hi Mommy Neecy,
The breathing you refer to as "apnea" is more likely Cheyne-Stokes respiration, which usually indicates that death is iminent. My Dad died within 24 hours of starting Cheyne-Stokes, my Mom lasted almost a week.


As far as "hunger pains", your aunt most likely isn't feeling much of anything by now, so don't worry about her experiencing hunger pains.

I know this has been an extremely difficult experience for you. My wish is for you to find the strength to get through the next week or so...your aunt is so very lucky to have such a caring family.

Ruth

 
Old 07-25-2002, 10:17 PM   #6
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Thanks so much for the kind words. Her chain stokes breathing has been taking place since Sunday (almost 5 days ago) and her lungs had filled up, but they put some patch behind her ear and it made them dry up (I believe ...)

Today (Friday) will mark 11 days with absolutely NO food and very little water. Also, this marks over 14 days (15 I think) since she has moved her bowels. Even the Hospice nurse remarked ... "This is Amazaing ... her body is shutting down, but her strong will is NOT ready to give up." It's really sad because she has been told by ALL of us to let go, but she wants to do it on her terms I guess, and that's fine.

I just hate seeing her almost completely in a coma now, she sleeps constant, she speaks nothing, she does NOT even move anymore. I just wish God would take her! This isn't life for her!! She deserved so much better than this It's all so hard. At least she is on oxygen now so hopefully that is making her as comfortable as possible, along with the meds .... Bless her heart.....

 
Old 07-26-2002, 12:17 AM   #7
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AcidicIsBad HB User
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Try Coral Calcium... most cancer is caused by lack of oxygen, oxygen gets expelled by acid in your body, by taking coral calcium, or any form of calcium, it absorbs the acid, and keeps your body free of it. Talk to the doctors about getting Coral Calcium pills for her, or put into her medicine somehow... it really helps. The reason I recommend coral calcium, is because it absorbs 100%, Milk can do it too, but absorbs only 17%. Take this knowledge to heart. For more into read my post.

I'll keep your Aunt in my prayers, I hope everyone does. Goodluck.

 
Old 07-26-2002, 07:38 PM   #8
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AcidicIsBAd -
Hey newbie, please forgive me for "lecturing", but I really don't think it's very helpful to suggest the latest herbal treatment for a patient who is so close to death that her body's systems are shutting down and she is already in a coma. Please read the posts and respond in kind.

MommyNeecey,
It sounds like your aunt is getting exactly what she needs...enough morphine to allow her to die in peace and without pain. If she were awake, she'd really be suffering...the bowel obstruction alone would be very painful and also cause nausea and vomiting.

And, even though she's in a semi-coma, she CAN still hear you. So talk to her often, tell her how much you love her, maybe remind her of some fun things you've done together, and keep reminding her it's okay to let go when she's ready.

It'll happen soon enough, so hang in there. I know you're going to miss her terribly when she's gone.

Ruth

 
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