I am cautiously optimistic that we have managed to stop the bleeding ulcer and that the new medicine regime has the vomiting under control. Vic is still running a fever, her BP is dropping and her heart rate has stabilized in the 110’s. She appears to be more stable than she has been in a couple of weeks.
This morning, after I washed her and changed her pyjamas she said “Mommy, I would like to go to the supermarket today…”
“Cool, what do you want to buy?” I asked
“Tippex (correction liquid) for the boys and Stilpain and Syndol (Tablets)” she said.
“Okay….” I said
“But I think you will have to drive Mommy… I don’t think I should be driving!” Vic said
This incredible young woman just does not know how to die! Vic had a good breakfast this morning. Vic has not eaten since Christmas!
The boys are fleeing home. Jon-Daniel has spent the past day and a half at Esther and Leon’s. Jared went to his Dad’s. I wish I too could flee. For the first time in my life I have come to understand why families place their dying loved ones in hospital of in a Hospice In-Patient unit. The waiting is gruelling and heart wrenching. The rollercoaster of dying is horrific!
I previously researched the “length of dying”.
The Journey Begins: One to Three Months Prior to Death
As one begins to accept their mortality and realizes that death is approaching, they may begin to withdraw from their surroundings. They are beginning the process of separating from the world and those in it. They may decline visits from friends, neighbors, and even family members. When they do accept visitors, they may be difficult to interact with and care for. They are beginning to contemplate their life and revisit old memories. They may be evaluating how they lived their life and sorting through any regrets. They may also undertake the five tasks of dying.
#1: Ask For Forgiveness
#2: Offer ForgivenessTask
#3: Offer Heartfelt ThanksTask
#4: Offer Sentiments of Love
#5: Say Goodbye
The dying person may experience reduced appetite and weight loss as the body begins to slow down. The body doesn’t need the energy from food that it once did. The dying person may be sleeping more now and not engaging in activities they once enjoyed. They no longer need the nourishment from food they once did. The body does a wonderful thing during this time as altered body chemistry produces a mild sense of euphoria. They are neither hungry nor thirsty and are not suffering in any way by not eating. It is an expected part of the journey they have begun.
One to Two Weeks Prior to Death
This is the time during the journey that one begins to sleep most of the time. Disorientation is common and altered senses of perception can be expected. One may experience delusions, such as fearing hidden enemies or feeling invincible.
The dying person may also experience hallucinations, sometimes seeing or speaking to people that aren’t there. Often times these are people that have already died. Some may see this as the veil being lifted between this life and the next. The person may pick at their sheets and clothing in a state of agitation. Movements and actions may seem aimless and make no sense to others. They are moving further away from life on this earth.
The body is having a more difficult time maintaining itself. There are signs that the body may show during this time:
- The body temperature lowers by a degree or more.
- The blood pressure lowers.
- The pulse becomes irregular and may slow down or speed up.
- There is increased perspiration.
- Skin color changes as circulation becomes diminished. This is often more noticeable in the lips and nail beds as they become pale and bluish.
- Breathing changes occur, often becoming more rapid and labored. Congestion may also occur causing a rattling sound and cough.
- Speaking decreases and eventually stops altogether.
Journey’s End: A Couple of Days to Hours Prior to Death
The person is moving closer towards death. There may be a surge of energy as they get nearer. They may want to get out of bed and talk to loved ones, or ask for food after days of no appetite. This surge of energy may be quite a bit less noticeable but is usually used as a dying person’s final physical expression before moving on.
The surge of energy is usually short, and the previous signs become more pronounced as death approaches. Breathing becomes more irregular and often slower. “Cheyne-Stokes”breathing, rapid breathes followed by periods of no breathing at all, may occur. Congestion in the airway can increase causing loud, rattled breathing.
Hands and feet may become blotchy and purplish (mottled). This mottling may slowly work its way up the arms and legs. Lips and nail beds are bluish or purple. The person usually becomes unresponsive and may have their eyes open or semi-open but not seeing their surroundings. It is widely believed that hearing is the last sense to go so it is recommended that loved ones sit with and talk to the dying during this time.
Eventually, breathing will cease altogether and the heart stops. Death has occurred. http://dying.about.com/od/thedyingprocess/a/process.htm
Vic has experienced severe delirium or rather terminal restlessness, which is apparently a fairly common symptom in many dying patients.
Some characteristics of delirium include:
- Impaired level of consciousness with a reduced awareness of the surrounding environment
- Impaired short-term memory and attention span
- Disorientation to time and place
- Delusions and/or hallucinations (believing and/or seeing things that are not real)
- Uncharacteristic speech – may be really loud or soft, very rapid or slow
- Fluctuating mood swings
- Sleep disturbances – insomnia or reversed sleep cycle
- Abnormal activity – body movements may be increase or decreased, very fast or slow
Terminal restlessness is a particularly distressing form of delirium that may occur in dying patients. It is characterized by anguish (spiritual, emotional, or physical),
restlessness, anxiety, agitation, and cognitive failure.
Terminal restlessness is so distressing because it has a direct negative impact on the dying process. We all want death to be a comfortable and peaceful experience, but if a patient is dying with terminal restlessness, her death can be anything but comfortable and peaceful. http://dying.about.com/od/symptommanagement/a/delirium.htm
Vic is on massive dosages of medication. She is peaceful now.
On Monday, the 14th, Jon-Daniel will receive his school colours for academic achievements. Vicky is determined to attend the ceremony. We will find a way of getting her to the school to witness this achievement. I believe it is the last goal she has.
So despite me saying that Vic does not know how to die she is actually having a textbook death…