Thursday, April 21, 2011
Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks. My mother-in-law is 83 years old. At the end of July last year she lost her husband of 59 years to a heart problem. She has been so ANGRY at him for dying. He tried so hard NOT to die. He was trying to exercise to build his strength so he could get an operation to repair the heart valve, virtually until the day he died. Even when he was delirious, he was "talking" to doctors and asking what he needed to do to get the operation. (He thought he was on the phone with the doctors but he was addressing the air.)
I am married to my mother-in-law's middle son. She has three children, all sons. Two live within a half-hour drive; the other lives 5 hours away. My husband takes his mother out (and usually I go as well) on Thursday night and on Sunday for a meal. His local brother takes her out on Monday and Friday. We all frequently call her.
About 16 months ago she had a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer. She flatly refused chemotherapy and/or radiation. At the time, her surgeon believed that, without those therapies, she may live for an additional 2 years.
Her feet are swelling and she says she has the flu. She will NOT let anyone take her to the doctor or an ER. My older sister-in-law is a nurse and she feels my mother-in-law desperately needs to be seen. But she will not go. A paramedic I spoke to says they cannot treat her without her consent, as long as she is capable of giving it. So calling an ambulance is out.
I know she is lonely and misses her husband. (In spite of the fact that they seemed to spend most of their time bickering! Even the "boys" say that they are surprised their parents' marriage lasted as long as it did.) I also believe that she has the right to die if that is her conscious desire. She is not mentally incapacitated. We all believe that she is fully aware of the potential consequences of her inactions/actions in this matter.
I am afraid for my husband because he takes everything so hard. He is barely sleeping and is so afraid that he will go over and she will be dead in her bed. I don't know how to help her or my husband, except by letting him talk to me about how he's feeling.
I know this has been a rather long post. Thank you for reading it and for passing along any thoughts you may have.