A few weeks ago my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 3b Lung Cancer. A few days later he was at the "Cancer Center" discussing radiation treatment for "Pain Relief" for the "Bone Mets".
Some time during that visit he gave up. I think he quit listening and decided he wanted to die. He told my family with him on the ride home that he didn't want anything done, proceeded to arrive home and sat in his chair until the "Hospice" nurse arrived and started the preparations for his admission. I am a Travel nurse on assignment in South Florida, the family live in Iowa. I made daily calls to them and decided that I needed to take their youngest Granddaughter up for a visit. We stayed a week and I really thought he had quite a bit of time. He was alert, seemed to have a good attitude, but was sort of a "needy" patient. My Mother was doing a great job helping him and maybe being a bit co-dependent, but nothing major. I spoke with my Dad about going from walking into the Dr's office on his own power to being confined to his chair or bed the next day as being a bit dramatic. This was after my arrival from a 27 hour drive for the visit. And after his initial comment when we arrived "I'm ready to go". We discussed a little about death, at least as much as I understand from my 20 plus years in Nursing and EMS. But discussing it with a member of your own family, vs a patient's family member, is much different. We as a family usually "don't talk about that stuff."
Fast forward to today. I'm back in Florida and last week it was decided that Mom needed a "respite". They decided for Dad to go to the "Serenity House" for the "5 day" respite care, so she could get some rest and refuel. Yesterday my Brother calls and says "Dad isn't going home." Mom doesn't think she can handle him at home so we have signed up for the inpatient care. I'm 1700 miles away and still have a bit over a month on my travel contract. The hospital has been very good about allowing me the time off, the staff work extra to cover for me and have been very supportive. This is my 4th winter travel contract out of the past 5 years at the same hospital.
I don't know what to do. It was hard seeing my Dad in poor health. He had very few health problems previously. Didn't take any medications at all until a few months ago. Had Prostate Cancer and a Radical Prostatectomy over 10 years ago and bounced back from that quite rapidly. Knee surgery a few years before that kept him immobile more. Almost all of the family is in Iowa. I have two younger brothers who are very close and are helping as much as they can. One has his own business and has a fairly open schedule and my other brother is Battling his own Stage 4 Lung cancer. (Diagnosed 2years ago following a seizure. He has brain mets but nothing in the bone.)?Yet? I am very proud of my brothers and want to be there to support them. Will I have enough time to make the trip? I have seen patients seem to hold on until that one family member arrives. What does that do to that family member? I have friends who were there with their Mother when she passed but were unable to be there when their father passed several years later. I spoke with one and she said "try to be there, if you can." I think I can but I'm not sure. Those of you who read this to here, I want to thank. Those of you who respond will be in my thoughts for a long time. It will be good to read this again later (I hope) or I may delete it. Getting it out has been cathartic.