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Cared for My Dad and am a Nurse

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I cared for my Dad while he fought cancer and while he was dying.  I listened to his heart stop beating, actually.  Because I am a nurse, I did not call the hospice nurse to come when I knew the end was near, I wanted to do it myself.  

Because of what I went through, I have a brand new perspective on nursing.  I'm not sure if this is allowed, but if it is I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has related to the end of life and the process.  What you saw and don't understand or what you will see, either way I am happy to talk about it. 


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Dear @FigsNewton

My deepest condolences and sympathies on the passing of your beloved dad. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Thank you for your kind offer.

I am still horribly angry about my dad's passing at the hospital. We had talked to the doctor on Wednesday and advised my dad had heart failure and possibly had 6 more months to one year to live. Why he passed two days later is still beyond me? Nurses were taking his vitals 3 times a day, how come no one knew the end was coming? Just the day before, my sister who is also a nurse asked the doctor, should we get hospice? And the doctor said there was no imminent sign he would pass.

When I saw him on that Friday he was sleeping. The OT and PT tried to get him to stand up but his head was drooping and he was very weak. I asked if he wanted some lunch but he said no. I still fed him a few spoons of pudding. He tried to hold on to his pop can for a drink.  I left his bedside for work. I got the call 2 hours later he passed. He pulled out his nebulizer and had his head leaning towards the railing. The nurse said she counted down his last breaths. 12...8...then nothing. How could it have gone so quickly?

The guilt of not being by my dad's side is still very hard. Failure to see the end was coming is also very hard.

Thank you for listening.

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I"m so sorry. 

It doesn't sound to me like he was actively dying.  We usually do have a bit of warning when someone is dying from an illness, because their body begins to shut down and it's a process.  We can usually tell that it's getting closer and give the family some heads up, so to speak.  If he was in active heart failure  he probably had too much fluid around his heart and lungs (that's what heart failure causes, along with swelling of the legs and sometimes even arms and face/torso).  


I'm so sorry.  Please don't feel guilty, you had no way of knowing.  It may sound silly, but I've had lots of patients who "waited" to pass until their families left the room, sometimes that's just how it goes.  No one knows why.  Maybe your Dad wanted to go without putting you through the agony.  

I hope you can find comfort in memories and I hope your heart begins to manage this horrible loss.  

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Thank you for taking the time to provide some insight. I guess there is no rhyme or reason sometimes. I think the doctor increased his water pills and this contributed to his death. No matter how I reason, the truth is still unacceptable to me.

Three days before my dad passed, he had actually asked to go home from this hospital. He said why I am I still here? I told him to hang on till the weekend and we would go home. Another sign that I missed. My oldest friend said to me, you were never going to be ready to lose your dad. He could have been 90 or a 100 this moment was going to hurt regardless.

I'm not doing a very good job of not feeling guilty. I hope more time will give me peace.

Thank you again.

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