That question from mom when I told her that my eldest brother would be put in palliative care broke my heart.
Nothing much to say, that’s mostly a rant. Big brother was alcoholic, and even though not the most severe, obvious form of alcoholism, it played a big part in his announced demise, severely weakening his body and immune system,even though he didn’t look like he was in such a bad shape. The second thing that played a big part was his avoidance of doctors.
He got a lung infection, and didn’t see any doctor until his neighbour found him laying on his kitchen floor on Christmas eve. By this point the infection was so bad that I was told by doctors that such cases are rarely seen in the developed world. Then it went downward : lung abscess, septic shock, heart failure, kidney failure, pneumothorax, intestine necrosis, internal hemorrages…
They didn’t skimp on the medical care. He was transferred to one of the best Paris hospital, went through surgeries, life support, even including things I didn’t know existed, like ECMO. He began to recover, heart and lungs working again, kidneys occasionally, was often conscious even though confused, but couldn’t speak (because of the respiratory apparatus) nor move (long “artificial coma”, general weakness, drugs…). It really was a painful sight.
And he lingered. Downs succeding to ups. I several times assumed he wouldn’t make it to the next day, but as late as last week, he was able to breathe alone for several hours/day and I was hopeful. But he was catching infection upon infection, most of them caused by stuff that never infect lungs or even never infect anybody apart from immuno-supressed people (he had no such disease). Finally, last week end an infection spread to other organs, he went into septic shock again, and I was told today that they had done everything they could and that at this point, trying to keep him alive was “acharnement therapeutique”, as we say in French, meaning pointless efforts to keep someone alive at any cost.
They’re giving up on him. He will stay on a respirator, receive food, hydration and pain medecines until whatever happens next kills him (probably a matter of days). I don’t really like this way of dying. If it were for myself, I’d prefer euthanasia (or for him, for that matter), but it’s not legal in France. It was a very unpleasant way to die, unable to move or communicate for three months in an intensive care ward, often in pain, often confused. And on top of it, he’s one of these people who die right after retirement (he retired june last year). He didn’t even had a good life ovrall.
And mom. She still hasn’t fully realized he was inevitably going to die, nor how quick it’s going to be. She’s 89. She’s devastated, of course. And unfortunately more than that. Total control freak while unable to handle anything, irrational, obssessing over the most unimportant things, suspicious and almost paranoid, attacking and criticizing everybody, blaming others for everything including her own mistakes…I even though for a while she was developing something like Alzheimer disease, but I don’t think that anymore. It seems my brother’s disease simply drew the worst in her. She was already impossible to handle even though an overall nice person, but the nice person part completely went out of the windows. Her erratic behaviour put more strain on me than my brother’s illness did.
Last months were exceedingly shitty for me. Health problems, work problems, money problems, relationship problems, suicidal friend, grieviously ill other friend (in fact I don’t even know if this one is still alive at the moment I’m writing), brother in a critical state, lunatic mom… I have difficulties staying in one piece and handling everything at the same time.
And I too have a hard time realizing that big brother is very soon going to die
ETA : the whole medical care people were wonderful. Not my previous experience in French hospitals. Maybe they changed their ways, maybe there are self-selected more humane people in this kind of wards. I don’t know. But everybody was great in the two hospitals and three wards where he stayed.