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.
Apr 5, '11
I am unsure how contract nsg works....... however, if you can get up there, THEN GET UP THERE! You will not regret it. I dont think you will ever look back and tell yourself "i wish i hadnt gone up there" but i do believe the opposite is true. This is the man that gave you life..... go hold his hand and tell him thanks and that you love him. good luck, i will be thinking about you!
Apr 5, '11
I'm sorry that your father is so ill. My opinion is that if you can you should go to your father as soon as possible and spend as much time as you can with him now. Don't wait until he is so close to death that he may not be able to communicate with you. It is not possible to say how your father's dying will occur, I explain to my patients and their families that death is like birth; a child is born in his/her own time and in his/her own way, and death is much the same. I personally feel that spending time during the "living" is better that spending time during the dying.
Apr 5, '11
Thank you for the replies. I did go there for a week and took my youngest daughter to see Grandpa for the last time. I cannot go and just stay. As a travel nurse you have no PTO, No sick time, and no Bereavement time that I can find. If you don't work you don't get paid. To add to it I am being audited by the IRS and had to cough up $8000 last month and most likely I won't get the $2000 refund that my new tax person says I over paid in 2010. If I could I would. Will go when he has completely given up and hope that everyone is OK with it. Will be asking that question directly to Mom and my younger brothers. Thanks again for the replies and opinions.
Apr 6, '11
Headed there now waiting in the airport for the flight should be there by the end of the day. Thanks again for the replies. Won't be posting any more on this.
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