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Old 08-23-2010, 06:05 AM   #1
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Question How long can my father linger?

This is such a difficult question to ask. My 80 y/o father is a cancer patient in hospice care. His last oral intake was 10 days ago. He went into a coma six days ago. He has had no pupil response, no purposeful movement in that time. Hospice told us seven days ago that he had less than 24 hours. They said that the next day and then the next. Now they are just saying anytime now. He is peacful and appears to be in no pain or distress. We have been on the razors edge for more than a week now. He has had consistent periods of apnea, some lasting two minutes or more for four days. Each time he stops breathing, we wonder if "this is it". It feels like I am wishing him to die and I have so much guilt about that. Has anyone had a similar experience with a loved one. What is the longest we can expect him to linger? If it is two weeks, three weeks or longer, I will set that time in my mind and quit this agonizing anticipation.

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Old 08-23-2010, 06:09 AM   #2
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Re: How long can my father linger?

Just an additional Dad has had no IVs or tube feeding at any time. Thanks for your response and help.

Old 08-24-2010, 12:11 PM   #3
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Re: How long can my father linger?

I am so sorry you are on such an emotional rollercoaster. I had a similiar situation with my father 7 years ago. He had lung cancer, was in hospice care and had slipped into a coma and stayed that way for about 10 days. my dad had some "unfinished business" in that although our family was very dysfunctional my 2 brothers refused to come or even call as my dad wanted to talk with them one final time prior to slipping into the coma, as he knew his prognosis was grim.

After 10 long days the angels from hospice kept expecting each day to be the last and yet he lingered. Without knowing it both me and my husband had a private "talk" with my dad explaining that the boys were not going to come or call and he did not have to wait any longer he could move on. I left the hospice to grab some lunch and received a call before we even got out of the parking lot to tell me he had passed.

No way to prove it of course, but the human spirit and will to live is so very strong, but I think that my DH and I were able to get through to him and he gave up his waiting moved on. I did not find out until the next day that my DH and I both had talked to my comatose dad about the same message.

Maybe your dad feels he can't leave yet? I'm not really sure if this helps in any way but I do know how very draining and and emotional you must be feeling. I hope for all concerned that his crossing will be peaceful and painfree. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.


Old 08-24-2010, 10:08 PM   #4
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Re: How long can my father linger?

I am a hospice vigil volunteer, and have sat with many "actively dying" patients. It is a fact, that hearing is the last of the five senses to go, and that many times they (the patients) will hold on longer than anyone thought possible, for whatever reason is very important to them. I had one man who in the final week(s) of life, promised his wife that he would still be alive for their 63rd wedding anniversary. He kept that promise, and died the next day.
Can you think of anyone or anything that he is still hanging on for??

You say that "He is peacful and appears to be in no pain or distress"; however I believe that his nurse is still giving him probably Ativan and Morphine on a regular basis.

Yeah, for sure watching and waiting for a close friend or relative (such a your father) to die is really hard to deal with. Stress Level = 100% and then some.
I am sorry for your loss.

Old 08-25-2010, 01:34 PM   #5
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Re: How long can my father linger?

Thanks to those who responded. My sweet Daddy passed away yesterday Aug 24. He had not had any food OR water for eleven days. He was in a Hospice house and at least one family member (usually many more) was with him at all times, so we know he wasn't given MS or Ativan...he just didn't exhibit any signs of pain and was totally unresponsive. His 80th birthday was three days ago, and we thought that was what he was waiting for. The Hospice nurse finally told us that some people seem to linger with lots of stimulus around them. We all left around 7:30am Tues morning and he passed at 8:55am. I am still amazed that he could survive without water for eleven days. It was hard to watch that, but his oncologist said that giving him IV fluids would hurt more than help. It has been quite a journey.

Old 08-25-2010, 01:39 PM   #6
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Re: How long can my father linger?

wearyheart I'm so sorry your dad is gone, but on the other hand, I'm glad he is at peace. Be good to yourself and know that you did everything you could have.....he knew you loved him and took care of him until the end.

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