Friday, February 2, 2007

Signs of approaching death

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is going to provide me with a volunteer who has gone through a situation similar to mine. They sent me some information on what to expect at the end of dad’s life. So much on the web talks about care after treatment and does not provide details that will help me in predicting the end. I could tell that my mother was dying, although no one dare say it. She denied it until the end. There are many symptoms related to treatment: speech difficulties, communication disorders, seizures, lethargy, depression to name but a few. I wanted to face reality but I had to respect my mother’s right to denial.

The signs of death are common to many illnesses: lack of appetite, lethargy, increase in time sleeping, apnea, insomnia, and his oncologist suggested that when he was sleeping 50% of the time he might have a month left.

I read something in a handout from the Canadian Cancer Society Information Service that in the case of a brain tumour one should raise the head of the bed of the patient to prevent some symptoms. I wonder how I can get that message across to all the caregivers that serve my dad and meet his needs. They publish numerous materials and dad had a handbook that I do not think anyone read. It gives great details on the brain and brain functioning. We do little for those assisting in palliative care. We rely on not-for-profit Transfer Payment Agencies to meet the needs of such clients and families.

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