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Last days? (Liver cancer)

(13 Posts)
AGlass Mon 27-Jul-15 10:02:28

My Grandmother is dying of cancer.

I lived with her for 15 years, she was practically my mother, so we are close. She is at home at the moment, but things are becoming difficult.

Over the last week, she has changed. Her breathing is laboured, she has slight jaundice (not of the eyes), also ascites (no treatment/drain offered) but she can still sit in a chair. Her face has changed. She can't stand up unaided, she can't raise her feet.

Her eyes are prominent/staring, her nose looks more pointed. I know she is losing weight fast, but she looks like a different person, and my children are scared by it.

The change is quite extraordinary, she looks like a different person.

She seems so different. She asks the odd question (it is hard for her to talk, she has oxygen supplied) sometimes pertinent and 'in the moment' but sometimes harking back to years ago, when different people were there.

The district nurses only visit once a week, Macmillan only seem to care about paperwork and practical stuff, they have only spoken to us on the phone, not visited.

My Grandmother looks so different, it's as though her body wants to distance itself from us, but she is fighting it... she can't/won't acknowledge that death is imminent, so I fall into thinking she will round a corner and buck up.

She speaks of what she will buy for Christmas/autumn/future birthdays, but none of those she will be here for.

Google says her symptoms point to only having days left, but I can't tell. Should we be there all the time now? Or can we wait for the weekend?

The summer holidays mean my young children are ever present, but three children in the house, hardly recognising the person they see, are not conducive to an easy passing.

I don't know what to do. I have never known anyone with these symptoms, the medics/carers seem to think a 'well we'll see' attitude is fine.

Days, or weeks?

She just physically all of a sudden looks so different.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Mon 27-Jul-15 10:17:02

What an awful situation you are in flowers, days or weeks is not an easy question to answer sadly but it does sound like she needs someone with her at all times, is there any hospice input at all?

redshoeblueshoe Mon 27-Jul-15 10:20:16

I am so sorry as I don't know, but when my DF was dying I was lucky enough to have someone who could look after my DC as it really would have been too distressing for them. It really does sound as she doesn't have long flowers

AGlass Mon 27-Jul-15 10:29:21

Than you for your replies.

There is theoretically an option for hospice care, but there are only 14 beds, so most people lose out.

I suppose they expect that she can stay here. She'd be entirely lost and forgotten about in an actual hospital, so we are afraid to call 111/999.

The sudden change is just so extraordinary - she looks like a different person, and is hardly there - but she so wants to hang on.

I'm afraid that the children being afraid, holding off huge etc. will hurt her, and them.

redshoeblueshoe Mon 27-Jul-15 10:34:18

I totally understand about the hospital thing, I would really want someone with my relative around the clock if they were in hospital. I think I'd check out places at the hospice

FadedRed Mon 27-Jul-15 10:42:06

In view of the change in your GM, I would suggest you talk to District Nursing Sister and ask for them to call to see if there is anything else they can do to make her more comfortable. Has anyone mentioned Marie Curie nurses, who can cover some nights for you to get some sleep?

Toffeewhirl Mon 27-Jul-15 10:54:14

I'm so sorry for what you're going through. It does sound as if your GM is nearing the end, I'm afraid. My own GM died of cancer and I was there with her till the end. I also lived with her when I was a child. She looked different in the last week of her life and retreated into herself. While she was still talking, she clearly didn't want to discuss the possibility of her death, so we all played along with that. She ordered herself a new dress for her daughter's 50th birthday and we hung it up on her wardrobe door, where she could see it. It gave her hope, although by the time of the birthday she was sleeping all the time. If your GM is talking about the future, I think you need to go along with that.

It sounds as if your GM should certainly be having daily visits from nurses, not weekly. Who is bathing her, etc? Is that you? That's not fair, especially as you are trying to care for your three children too. If you can't get nursing care, I think you need to push for hospice care asap.

And I don't think you should make your children see her if they don't want to. It's a frightening thing for an adult to see someone declining like this, let alone a child.

I hope you get the help you need.

justabigdisco Mon 27-Jul-15 10:58:32

I think the best thing to do is ring her GP and ask for a home visit. Explain that you feel she is approaching the end. They will be able to tell you (roughly) what to expect and help you with other support eg increased district nurse presence. Macmillan nurses can be amazingly helpful - do they know what the current situation is? Contact them and ask them to visit.
Best wishes to you and your DGM

Toffeewhirl Mon 27-Jul-15 11:05:10

Oh, and my GM was nursed daily by Macmillan nurses towards the end. They were fantastic. Sorry you haven't had good experiences of the service so far.

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Mon 27-Jul-15 11:26:20

Op, you have all my sympathy-lost my dm two years ago-brought home for the end. its tough-no one prepares you for the physical changes, it can be shocking. Agree call the doctor, they can get wheels in motion for palliative care and district nurses to visit. (A warning, for mum when the morphine was started she became unresponsive) Macmillan were great, did overnight stays, but they tend to step in when its close to the end. A practical note (and your dgm may have everything in place, but talk to her funeral director of choice. Gives you one less thing to think of later and you will know who to call)

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Mon 27-Jul-15 13:02:51

Hospices sometimes offer an 'at home' service too so that might be worth checking out.

echt Wed 29-Jul-15 08:39:10

OP, I have no help to offer but recognise the shock of the physical changes. When visiting a dear friend in a hospice, it was the suddenly thinner nose and larger teeth (gums shrinking) that surprised me and confirmed the end was near.

I don't intend any of this to shock or horrify, but your post was so striking and heartfelt, it brought the memories rushing back.

All the very best, and hope your grandmother gets the help she needs.

thanks thanks thanks

RatOnnaStick Wed 29-Jul-15 08:47:28

Hospices don't just offer inpatient palliative care. They are greatly involved at home too if you want them to be. Call the GP, they can set things in motion for you.

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