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My dad died last night of a massive stroke

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Old 05-03-2009, 01:49 AM   #1
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Question My dad died last night of a massive stroke

I'm hoping anyone can give me some advise on this. My dad was rushed to the ER Friday morning around 2am. He was unresponsive. A CT scan showed that he had a massive stroke and the whole left side of his brain was hemoraging and the swelling was pushing over into the right side. He was breathing well but unconscious. They told us there was nothing they could do, it was just a matter of time, maybe 24-48 hours. They moved him from the ER to a room for what they called "Comfort Care" which means they give him morphine to ease any suffering and oxygen but that's about it. 18 hours we watched him just lay there deteriorating until the end which was horrible in itself... he moaned a couple of times, his body twitched and arched and he gasped for air and then the strangest thing happened, his eyes (which had been half-open, pupils dilated the whole time) opened wide, we looked in wholly terror, gasped, stopped breathing, then his heart stopped.
My main concern is hostipal proticol, they refused to do another CT scan to update his condition or an EEG, there was no neurologist that saw him, in fact, the doctor on call only saw him once, and didn't even exam him, just answered our questions. Shouldn't or couldn't more have been done? Anyone with any advise, please... I feel lost. Thank you.

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Old 05-03-2009, 08:15 AM   #2
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Re: My dad died last night of a massive stroke

i really am so sorry for your loss. i went thru the same type of thing when my dad passed about two years ago. i know its not pretty to watch and go thru. some of your questions really do need to be asked of that hospital and the head of the ER as far as why they did what they did? its just hard to say when it comes to the brain,ya know? if there was that much damage from an actual stroke(that IS pretty massive hemoraging), well it would be possible that because of what was affected, that there really was nothing that they even could try or do.

BUT, if the family requests this, and in this case it really should be done, you can ask for the coroner to just do an autopsy on him. the sooner you move on this the better. i do believe chances are that your dad may still be IN that hospital and not yet moved to any funeral home yet? even if he has been moved, i do believe the family still would have the right to ask as long as nothing has been done on him yet.

we requested this for our dad only because they told us they 'thought' he actually died from a triple A. but we just wanted to make certain, because anything is possible, that this was right. well it wasn't. he actually had had a heart attack some time before this that he nor even his primary doc actually knew about. this just caused a very weakened wall in his heart that just finally broke down and his heart, the sac around it, filled with blood and stopped his heart. totally different ya know? we also found out he had a heart disease that even his doc did not know about either.

the one thing you should really find out,and this would be also part of your family history, is if that bleeding actually even came from an actual storke for sure. there are just many other possibles when it comes to the brain, like aneurysm or whats called an AVM(arteriovenous malformation) that if these just 'went" would also cause pretty massive bleeding within that brain. that bleed source just really needs identifying for SURE. it could have been exactly what they said,but an actual autopsy would tell for certain.

hopefully you can still get this done. i seriously would call the hospital to find out where he is at right now, then speak with your mom and your family about this too. it would at least give you answers. this would also show if there was anything he may have had wrong that was possibly a congenital problem(not just within that brain, but kidneys, liver,anything)? this is what i ment about part of your familys medical history.

again, i truely am so sorry for your loss. hopefully you can find some peace with all this after speaking with the attending doc and the head of the ER too just to ask about standard proticals, and of course if you can still obtain that autopsy. take care mikilyn. please let me know if you find out anything,K? **
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Old 05-04-2009, 06:31 PM   #3
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Re: My dad died last night of a massive stroke

I'm so sorry. I noticed your post because I lost my dad this morning, too, and I am thinking of you and your family. I can tell you that my STEPdad died a few years ago from major hemoraging on one side of his brain and died a few days later. From what i understand from the doctors, the brain continues to swell for up to 72 hours after the first trauma or incident, so patients can actually get worse for the first three days. What happened with my stepdad was that his brain swelling became so great that it started pushing his brain out through the bottom opening of the skull (down toward the brain stem) and when that happens it almost always means the person will die. It was explained to me that the skull is extremely hard, obviously to protect our brain, but when something happens inside the brain, it is very very serious because there is no where for the swelling to go and it just crushes the brain.

I will say though that what they did with your dad sounds kind of weird. I would expect that in a situation like this the doctor or at least a nurse would take some time to explain to your family what was happening and why they thought it would be best to allow him to pass away. At bare minimum a social worker should have come to see you and ask you what you wanted to do and what your dad's wishes would have been. Did they even ask you if you wanted them to try to revive him if his heart stopped. I don't really think those decisions are to made by the doctor, but rather by the patient and/or his family. When my stepdad died, the doctor took my mom and me aside and explained everything and we asked a lot of questions and he kindly explained why certain things were not options in his case. They did ask us what his wishes were and they followed an advance directive he left.

I think you have the right to speak to someone in authority at the hospital and question the protocol the followed here. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I know it is just so hard.

Old 05-06-2009, 09:42 AM   #4
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Re: My dad died last night of a massive stroke

I am so very sorry for your loss. I hope that maybe I will be able to give you a few answers. <removed>

Unfortunately, the events that you describe are devastating. A few concepts that may help you understand what happened are: The skull is an enclosed "box". It is completely full with its contents-brain, blood, and cerebral spinal fluid. If either of these contents grows it compresses the others. So the blood was compressing the brain. The pressure inside of the skull builds. The only opening in the skull is down by where the spine attaches to the head. As the pressure increases, the brain pushes down through this opening and causes irreversible damage to the brain stem. The brain stem controls many of the functions of life including breathing. Once it is severely damaged it never regains function. This will lead to one form of death which is known as brain death. Where the person will never wake up and never breath again. Now without being apart of your dad's care, I can only speculate that the decision to make him comfort care was two fold. One is based on the information above. The other was that you mentioned that your father's bleed was on the left side of his brain. This is very important because the majority of people are left brain dominant. This means that not only does the left side of the brain control the right side of the body but also controls speech and other attributes that made your father who he was.

Again I am so sorry for your loss. I know that it is hard to loose someone that you love. Though it may seems as if your dad was suffering. Likely he did not. The bleeding would have affected his ability to comprehend pain, which admittedly would not have lessened your agony of watching his passing. Another scan or EEG would not have helped at all. I know it does give some comfort to the family to see pictures but these tests tell less than the public often are aware. I am very sorry that a nurse or a chaplain, or a physician did not lend you the support you needed. Again I do not know the cause of your dad's bleed, but I would suggest that if any one in your family has high blood pressure that it be taken very seriously since this is the most common cause. God bless...

Last edited by mod-anon; 05-14-2009 at 09:20 AM. Reason: removed profession

Old 05-12-2009, 10:26 PM   #5
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mikilyn HB User
Re: My dad died last night of a massive stroke

Hi there, I'm so sorry that I didn't get back to this post earlier... with all of the arrangements that needed to be made, I completely forgot about my post and my questions... I had thought of asking for an autopsy but family told me that they most likely would not do that. Even though we've already had the funeral services, he STILL has been been cremated and is still just sitting at the funeral home. I'm going to check on that tomorrow, I'm wondering if it's too late to ask for one now... I will though. I;m left with so many unanswered questions....

Old 05-12-2009, 10:30 PM   #6
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Re: My dad died last night of a massive stroke

We did have a social worker come in to talk to us and they did ask what his final wishes were and it turns out that his girlfriend said that he just filled out one of those papers and he marked DNR so they just let him breath on his own and he did so for 19 hours. They had his on oxygen through his nose but he was breathing out of his mouth on his own. I do need to finds out what the actual cause of death was though for our family's history.

Old 05-12-2009, 10:38 PM   #7
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Re: My dad died last night of a massive stroke

Thank you for your advise on this, it's really good to know that an EEG or another scan would not have helped. That was a big concern of mine... it's interesting that you mentioned the left side, he was left-handed o I don't know if that played a part in it or not. It's weird that the bleeding in the brain affects the ability to feel pain... I don't worrythat he was feeling pain as much as I know for a fact that he could hear us and understand us as he made groans during certain discussion that we were having concerning Power of Attorney for him. He would also twitch when my cell phone rang. His hand would grip my hand a little at times too, could mean nothing but I think he knew... The chaplain was very nice but I know why they are there and I know she didn't have answers for us as far as medical goes. She actually came back after 19 hours to be there for us, called the funeral home for us, did so much, it was unreal. Thank you all for your posts and thoughts for me, it really makes a difference!

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