My last post talked about how my grandma was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to her liver. I may repeat some information here, but I want to get this all out in one post.
On December 16th, my grandma went to the doctor because she had been sick since the end of October. She was told it was just a virus, and it would eventually get better.
On Friday, December 17th, she called her doctor again because she was in pain. They pretty much told her to just deal with it, but if it got too bad, to go to the ER. So, off to the ER she went. After some type of body scan, they found the large mass in her colon, and the spots on her liver.
She spent the weekend in the hospital so she would be ready to have the tumor removed on Monday, December 20th. She was on a liquid diet until Sunday, when the only thing she could have was the gallon on stuff they give you to "clean you out"
I took Jazmyn to see her Monday morning, before her surgery, and she was in great spirits. She new what she was dealt, and she was ready to take on the surgery, recovery, and upcoming chemo. She told me she hoped she had a few more years left in her, but that she knew it was all in God's hands.
Monday afternoon, she went through the surgery pretty successfully. Her surgeon removed the entire tumor from in and around her colon, and he got to it just in time. It was showing signs that it had started to perforate.
She was on the ventilator until Tuesday morning, which was longer than the doctor's wanted. She seemed to be in great spirits on Tuesday, and she was able to sit up and dangle her feet over the edge of the bed. Wednesday, she was doing pretty well too. But, despite how the family thought she was doing, the doctors had still not let her eat or drink anything. She wasn't even allowed ice chips. So, she hadn't had anything to drink since Sunday, and she was not happy about that.
On Wednesday, her primary care doctor came to see her in the ICU while she was by herself, and he started to ask her about a DNR form. Nobody knows what he had said to her, but after that point, she was like a completely different person. She was depressed, and she thought the doctor was telling her that he got to choose if she lived or died. Everyone was very upset that he tried to have a conversation like that with no other family, or medical staff around. Her ICU nurse was livid when she found out what happened.
It was Wednesday night when things started to slip a little. We aren't sure if it was her broken will, or a complication from the surgery, or some combination of the two, but she was getting worse.
Thursday morning, she was not as coherent as she had been. That continued through the day, and the doctors were now worried about her getting pneumonia, so they were still refusing to give her anything by mouth. Her kidneys were not working at full capacity either, and she was starting to retain fluid. The worst part was, her pain medication was set up with a pump that only she could push. She was pretty weak at this point, and she wasn't able to give herself the medication she needed.
On Friday, December 24th, I finally made it in to visit her at about 9:15am. I walked in, and she was sitting up and looking around, but her stare was blank. She was trying to say ouch, but there was so much congestion in her throat, that it was just coming out in a raspy noise. My uncle had spent the night there, and he requested that an automatic drip of pain medication be put in instead of her pump. At this point, my aunt stopped in too. We were told because of the congestion, they were going to do a chest x-ray.
The three of us stepped out so they could do the x-ray, and we were out in the hallway about 30 seconds when the critical care doctor came out and told us her oxygen leave went from 90 to 40, and that they needed to put her back on the ventilator. The three of us were shocked and said to go ahead. We were moved to the waiting room, and a few minutes later we were surrounded by doctors, nurses, and the chaplain. They said her heart stopped and they were doing CPR to try to revive her. They were trying to get us to sign a DNR right at that moment. The three of us weren't comfortable doing that, because my grandpa hadn't been up to see her since the surgery, and we wanted him to be able to say good bye.
We called all the family, and everyone showed up to discuss our options. Here the doctors that came in while everything was happening made it sound like she would code again very soon. Once she was hooked up to everything though, she was somewhat stable. But, she was hooked up to about 12 IVs, a central line, and the ventilator. Her blood pressure was too low to give her pain medication, or much sedation, and her kidney function was decreasing. She was gaining about 15 pounds of fluid everyday.
On Sunday, the renal doctor came in and said we should strongly consider removing the ventilator. All the family was called in again to discuss removing her from life support. Then, her surgeon came in and told us that it was premature to make this decision, and the critical care doctor came in and said we should try to wean her off of the ventilator and blood pressure meds, and see how she does. So what do you do, when the doctors are telling you completely opposite things? Of course, the family decided to wait, since we were given some hope.
On Monday morning, my sister and I showed up to relieve my aunt, so she could head back home to Wisconsin. Right before she was leaving, the critical care doctor for the day came in and said that there really is no hope of her being able to survive without the ventilator for very long, and even if she did, she still had to deal with the diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. We called the family again, and told them it is probably time to take her off the ventilator. One of my uncles had a really hard time with that idea. He thought that if we were the ones to make the decision to remove her from life support, it would be us taking her life. I tried to explain that her life was still in God's hands. That if we wouldn't have allowed the intubation on Friday, that God would have already taken her.
It took most of the day to get everyone back to the hospital, and then all the siblings wanted to meet with my grandpa to make sure everyone felt the same way. We all took turns saying our good byes. At 6:50 that night, her nurse started to give her the meds to relax her and keep her anxiety down. Then she turned off her other medications, and finally removed the ventilator. The whole family was surrounding her, and we read to her and talked to her and then we just watched her while she was taking her last breaths. She opened her eyes for a couple minutes, and my grandpa got to look in her eyes one last time. At 8:12pm, she passed away. Only ten days after being diagnosed with cancer.
We miss her everyday.