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Anyone got any COPD end of life experiences they're able to share?

(4 Posts)
OvertiredandConfused Thu 23-Jan-14 14:25:35

My sister's father-in-law has had COPD for a couple of years. On constant oxygen at home etc. Was doing okay and managing short outings without a problem up to and including most of this last weekend. Obviously knew the long-term prognosis but the thinking was months (at least).

He went in to respiratory arrest on Sunday afternoon and was rushed to hospital. He's still in ICU. Initially docs thought it might be a stroke but it wasn't. CO2 out of control etc, etc. He was on a ventilator for 24 hours and they thought it was the end.

Amazingly, he rallied, came off the ventilator and was talking and quite positive. Went downhill again yesterday morning and is now on an oxygen mask (can't recall the name). Not full on ventilator, but he has "failed" several attempts to come off that.

He's lost lots of weight, is very confused and, my sister says, just seems to be tired and to have had enough.

We're assuming that there isn't long left and that he's unlikely to rally from this. His wife and daughter are distraught and don't want to ask any questions. His son (my sister's husband) feels caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of understanding what's going on and balancing encouraging his dad against telling him it's okay to go if he wants to.

Not sure what we're looking for really but any thoughts, advice or experiences would be appreciated.

elvisola Thu 23-Jan-14 14:31:31

Sorry to hear this. My dad had COPD and his hospital experience was much the same as you described. My brother went in to see him and called to say he had rallied, was looking better and seemed cheery. He died suddenly 2 hours later, there was no warning so myself and my brother were not with him.

It's very unpredictable, based on my experience I would be prepared for the worst but I do hope that's not the case.

OvertiredandConfused Thu 23-Jan-14 14:42:05

Thanks for sharing elvisola. My sister is going to try to talk to one of the doctors later this afternoon. She and her husband just feel like they don't know at all what they're facing. Preparing themselves, supporting him and the extended family caring for their DCs, practical stuff about work, is all hard enough anyway but they just need an educated medical opinion to help form some of that I think.

My brother-in-law's sister sis getting married in three weeks and there hasn't been any indication before Sunday that he wouldn't be able to walk her down the aisle. Now this.

SimLondon Mon 17-Feb-14 22:15:16

I went through this with my grandfather - and i know about the special mask you mention that is the last stop before the ventilator, my grandfather had hallucinations on that mask, it might have been caused by being on the oxygen all the time for copd and the co2 not clearing out of his system - this can happen.

The good news is that although my grandfather was hospitalised a few times and the doctors prepared us for the not making it through the night scenario, he did - avoiding chest infections and nebulisers seemed to be the most helpful rather than the oxygen.

In the end he died of heart failure at 88.

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