The End

This could make unpleasant reading

Died: Sunday 17, Sept 2006, 12.00 mid-day

The Final leg of the Marathon

to be completed

before the spinal implant
The perspiration, nightmares shifting into the waking day, increasing muscle twitches (couldn't drink with out spilling), confusion, groggyness, slurred speech, etc were getting worse.
Priorities were now:
1 keep pain to bearable levels
2 keep mind clear
3 world peace, and other easily obtainable goals
(up until the previous week, while working as a teacher, priority 1 and 2 were reversed)

After the original cancer operation and treatment she lost a lot of weight, but in the last few months or weeks, she was looking even thinner. Fluid retention was keeping her weight reasonably constant, but she was losing condition rapidly. Her eye sockets had become so hollow that she couldnt close her eyes anymore. At first she slept with one eye open, then both. For months she had slept sitting upright, with her mouth open. Now her sleep involved interactive conversations, arm waving, lots of writing and continuous muscle movement.

Some teeth had fallen apart.

Spinal tap operation (intrathecal morphine) Tues 12
To reduce the side effects from the huge levels of oral Morphine, it was decided to use a spinal morphine pump implant. This should feed tiny amounts directly to the nerves.
..intrathecal pump FAQ's
The pump feeds painkiller and morphine continuously into her spine at a set rate, and also allows a bolus (extra 'large dose' top-up) to control peak pain. (The bolus has a 15 minute time-out to stop excessive or dangerous overuse)
It was hoped that this would give her a clear mind, ease her speech, and remove all pain.

The operation goes ahead at about 11.45... She is released from recovery near 3 pm.
A tube is fed into her spine then looped around (under the skin to the front of her belly)
She appeared to be quite groggy most of the day from the anaesthetic on top of the previous days morphine use.
On average over the last few weeks, she appeared to have a clearer mind in the evenings, especially when she had visitors. We are hoping she will be better tomorrow.
The incisions from the operation are leaking a little... probably from the fluid retention under the skin.

No sleep Wed 13
She is not better. She is getting good pain relief, and eating, however she didnt sleep, and is less clear headed and slurring her words. We are expecting her to be discharged on friday.

Bad news Thurs 14
Still no sleep, and today even worse than yesterday.
It has been suggested to me today that she is unlikely to recover sufficiently to leave the hospital. She asked for the last rites to be read...
The surgeon was worried about the leaking from the incisions, because of the risk of infection causing meningitis. He appeared to believe that the leaking was from a split in the tube.
She is eating less.
In preperation for tomorrows operation she has nil by mouth from midnight on.

Repeat Spinal tap operation (a day from Hell ) Fri 15
No sleep, no food, no water, but her mind seemed a little clearer this morning.
The upcoming operation seemed to scare her a little.
The operation was at about 11.30am. We were expecting this operation to be quicker and easier than the previous one.
The operation results can be read in more detail here.
After the operation she was struggling to breath and increasingly anxious. The priest arrived to administer the last rites.
We discussed the use of a sedative, and it was agreed that tomorrow she would be able to sleep.

Sleep at last Sat 16
Still no sleep, no food or water...
Finding herself transformed into a shrunken old lady, she was now running a marathon just trying to get enough air to breath. Breaths were getting smaller and faster.

Everyone there said their last goodbyes at mid-day, and a terminal sedative was given to her mid-afternoon. (A terminal sedative means it will allow her to sleep stress-free until her death. It does not in any way hasten her death).
As the sedative was given to her, (by injection) she relaxed, her breathing eased, and she smiled. The fighting and fear was over for her. At last she could rest.

For years now, I have always finished the day by saying "night night Anne".
So, as she went to sleep this last time, I said it again... and her final words back to me were... "night night" and she smiled and went to sleep.

Death Notice Sun 17 Sept 06
The Dragon's wife died in hospital on Sunday 17 Sept at 12.00 mid-day. Funeral at the Catholic Cathedral on Wed 20 Sept at 1.30pm

"night night Anne"

The priest Wed 20 Sept 06
On the day of the funeral we were surprised to hear that the priest that read her last rights had just died.





The web address here is:
useful Cancer related links:

Dealing with symptoms of secondary liver cancer

Cancer Society - Canterbury NZ

Secondary cancer in lymph nodes

Stomach Cancer

Abdominal Pain


Pain relief in cancer

Pain Relief: Chronic Cancer Pain

Cancer pain: Relief

Stomach Cancer

Google Groups : alt.support.cancer

Google Groups : alt.support.cancer

take cancer treatment?

Sentinel Node Mapping


Cancer : Stomach cancer


Bone scan: Using nuclear medicine to find bone abnormalities


Managing Care at Home

Esophageal cancer in 48 year old male

Cancer Pain Management

Caring For the Person, Not Just the Patient

The Rights of the Dying

Dying: Life Support: Partner

Life Support Issues Question List

Life Support Issues Previous Question List

Preparing For Approaching Death

Home Care Guide - Final Weeks of Life

Home Care Guide - Download the Guide

Types of painkillers

What Are The Risk Factors for Metastatic Cancer?

Drugs & Driving

Palliative Care & Symptom Management - Treating Pain

Treating Pressure Sores

Stages of a Pressure Sore

Pressure Sores

Guidelines for Patient Care of Epidural Analgesia

Long-Term Spinal Opioid Therapy in Terminally Ill Cancer Pain Patients

The National Pain Foundation: My Treatment

longterm placement of epidural morphine

Annals of Long-Term Care

Journal of Women's Health & Medicine

Limb Swelling

Hospice Patients Alliance - Signs of Approaching Death

care of intrathecal morphine