Hi there, Sadly I lost my gran on 11/08/17. I wanted to share my experience of going through the end of life process as I trawled through the internet to find others experiences to prepare myself for the envitable. I am the type of person who needs to know facts and likes to be fully educated on what lies ahead. I appreciate others may not feel the same however for those who do I hope the following is helpful.
My gran was diagnosed with bone metasis around two months ago after complaining of severe pain from around January this yr. Unfortunately despite visiting her gp on several occasions she was told it was muscular and she should go for physio (which she did). As there were no improvements she went to a different GP who ordered an X-ray which showed up a fractured pelvis which they concluded was likely to be metastasis from previous breast cancer cells. My gran had breast cancer around 10 yrs ago and under went radiotherapy.
After an informal diagnosis my gran was sent for a bone scan which concluded there was metastasis in various places including her pelvis, ribs, spine, skull - basically everywhere. A further CT scan showed there was also a slight spread to her liver. It wasn't good news which was my gran's words exactly.
The plan then was that she was to undergo radiotherapy mainly for the pain and would be put on proper pain relief I.e. Morphine. My gran then moved in with my aunt who cared for her aswell as nurses coming to the house. My gran was given slow release morphine morning and night and has oral morphine 1.5mg as and when she needed it. It wasn't everyday that she took and additional oral morph and seemed to be doing well on the slow release.
My gran did become less mobile and used a walking aid with assistance to get to the toilet. She was able to get out of bed and sit on a chair for a while aswell rather than being in bed all day. She did however get very tired and started to sleep throughout the day.
After just over a week with my aunt my gran began to get quite distressed and thought it wasn't working out at my aunt's house. She told one of the cancer nurses and she suggested that she considered s hospice visit even just for a rest and to control her pain relief. We all agreed that this was a good idea. The plan was that she would go in for about 2 weeks.
A few days later my gran went into the hospice. She had about 3 good days where she was in a ward with other patients and was sitting up talking to family members. She then became very tired and just wanted to be left to sleep. The next day she had a brief period of consciousness and then nothing. She was moved to a private room and placed on a morphine syringe driver at 8mg topped up if necessary and was also given something to calm her and prevent agitation.
She was in a deep sleep and was mouth breathing. She stopped taking food or fluids and all we were doing was wetting her lips with damp sponges to keep her mouth moist and putting Vaseline on her lips. The nurses came into turn her around every four hours.
After this change we stayed with her every night in the hospice. She remained unconscious however was stable. Her breathing was every 10-11 seconds this went on for a day or so.
On day 3 my gran became increasingly agitated which was visible from her frown and her trying to move her hands aswell as move about the bed. Due to her distress the consultant came in and discussed increasing her morphine dosage to 15mg to keep her nice and settled. This was agreed.
After this my gran remained fairly stable for another day or so. Her breathing became gradually quicker to around 7-8 seconds. We did start to see s change in her circulation which was visible on her hands and legs. Her fingers and toes were a pale pink colour and there were dark marks. She also on occasion developed a slight rattling sound when breathing however this would come and go and latterly went away completely.
On day 5 of being on a driver with no fluids I noticed my grand breathing had changed to every 4-5 seconds. On the morning of day 6 her hands feet and nose were cold and her forehead clammy. Her hands and feet had worsened. She had mottled veins all over the feet and something told me it would be much longer. I sat with her with family and watched her for a while just holding her hand. After about an hour her eyes opened ever so slightly and she took only a few more breaths and passed. It was very peaceful and she had family around her.
Although my gran is my rock and my best friend and I don't know what life will be like without her I take comfort in the fact I was with her in her last moments holding her hand and telling her it would be ok. Also I know she is no longer suffering.
The hospice were fantastic and could not do enough for my gran and my family and I will be forever grateful.
I hope my experience is helpful to someone in a similar position to me