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Life-limiting illness

Something happened in hospital - can I talk to you about it?

6 replies

GeraltsSilverSword · 02/02/2017 12:16

Hello all. Can I first say that I think the staff of the NHS are utterly incredible in doing what they do. I have so much respect for them. Something happened yesterday that made me feel distinctly uncomfortable and it's been playing on my mind - but I'm quite prepared to be told that I'm being super-sensitive and that I've got the wrong end of the stick.

My dad was taken into hospital on Monday night - he has severe respiratory problems (has COPD - and likely lung cancer but the doctors cannot confirm with a lung biopsy because they don't think he's strong enough/would survive the process) and is very susceptible to chest infections and the like, and this one has knocked him for six. He is doing a bit better now and can hopefully come out soon.

However, the old gentleman who was in the bed next to him in the respiratory and medical ward died while I was visiting dad yesterday. He was 83 and apparently very poorly. He kept removing his mask/nebuliser (someone had to sit with him in the end to try and keep it on him) and was fidgety and clearly not quite with it. He had lots of attention from lots of different staff, and he was (I think) answering questions from the nurse sitting with him about his family/grandchildren and so on, but difficult to do so when you have a mask on. At one point two women from a physio team (can't remember exactly) came in and the curtains were drawn around the bed. There were lots of people in there with them. They talked to the patient and said they needed to get him to cough to try and get some of the phlegm up off his chest, and I could hear lots of sucking sounds and they said he was coughing well, but it sounded like hard work and quite stressful for the old man.

I was focusing mainly on my dad, so only heard bits (wasn't intentionally earwigging but sometimes our conversation lapsed and I just tuned in to what was going on around me) but there seemed to be a change in atmosphere and I heard muttering about 'you've given him dia-something' in what sounded like a hushed, worried voice and more about his sats being low and him looking ashen. A junior doctor went in (my dad recognised her from last time he was in hospital) and out after a while. And then everyone left. I didn't think anything at the time, as I thought someone was still with him, but about 15 minutes later his daughter and her partner turned up to visit, and they were stopped and told he had died.

I can't help feeling really uncomfortable about this, but I don't have much experience with death. I guess I'm really worried about why they would put him through what seemed like quite an uncomfortable procedure only for him to die minutes later. I'm sure they knew what they were doing and I don't know anything about the man and his condition. I guess I'm just struggling to understand how he could be here, and 'well' enough for tests/procedures, only to not be here any more, just like that. And it feels very close to home, I suppose, as my dad is really quite poorly himself.

Does anyone have any advice? Thanks in advance and sorry it is so long.

OP posts:
GRW · 02/02/2017 22:11

How upsetting for you, especially when you are worrying about your Dad too. In an ideal world the gentleman who died should have been in a side ward, to provide privacy for him and his family at the end of life and afterwards.
I hope your Dad will feel better and able to come home soon.

Reality16 · 02/02/2017 22:19

It doesn't sound like he had any tests done, dia-morphine is end of life care.

PurpleDaisies · 02/02/2017 22:20

I'm just struggling to understand how he could be here, and 'well' enough for tests/procedures, only to not be here any more, just like that

Unfortunately sometimes it goes like that. It sounds like the man was DNR so if his heart stopped they wouldn't have tried to bring him back but that doesn't mean all treatment stops. It's common for people who are terminally ill to have tests and procedures because there's the potential for short term improvement in breathing (or other areas) meaning they're more comfortable.

I can imagine it must have been very upsetting for that to happen while your dad is ill. Flowers

UnbornMortificado · 02/02/2017 22:28

Geralts sorry you have gone through that Flowers

Like a PP has said it sounds like there was a DNR in place. They are binding and staff would (rightly) not do anything to bring him back so to speak.

I have clients with DNR's and I'm not allowed to administer CPR. It can be upsetting but it is their wishes that they made with the mental capacity to do so.

I'd guess "dia-something" would be diamorphine or dihydracodeine (sp) they are just painkillers, nothing dodgy.

Babyroobs · 04/02/2017 23:07

They may have given him diamorphine to help his breathing if he was struggling to breathe. It does seem odd for him to be given physio and suction a few minutes prior to him dying but maybe the physio team were trying to help his breathing by trying to get secretions up off his chest. Sometimes elderly people just deteriorate very quickly and sometimes this can coincide with just having had an injection of something to help their symptoms. Obviously health professionals don't want to see patients die struggling to breathe. Maybe the physio was too much for the patient or had a mucous plug blocking his airways or had a pulmonary embolism, there are numerous reasons why he could have died suddenly. If he was pulling his oxygen mask of before, it sounds like he may had been terminally agitated before the physio.

GeraltsSilverSword · 05/02/2017 18:10

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply. My dad is back home now and seems quite sprightly so feeling very relieved. We spoke about the poor fellow and Dad got quite teary and said 'They worked so hard to save him.' So I can only assume that my anxiety about my dad has played havoc with my brain. I feel better hearing that from Dad, as he obviously saw much more of the guy and his condition than I did in my 3-hour visit. Thank you so much again xxx

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