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My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Old Jan 3rd 2012, 2:10 pm
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Unhappy My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Hi guys,

I've read so many threads about this over the years....unfortunately it looks like it is now rapidly heading towards being my turn.

My mum has been battling cancer for the last few years, sometimes doing better than others....but unfortunately now it is starting to look desperate. We were just over in the UK for two weeks for the run up to Christmas. We had a lovely family time during the trip, but I could see just how so tired and very weak she is; I almost think she was hanging on for our visit - she loved spending time with her little granddaughter, but I could see the strain on her and the painful emotions she is experiencing.

No sooner did we leave, a couple of days later (mid last week) she was admitted to the hospital fully time - she is on a blood drip, antibiotics, numerous other procedures going on etc, and is totally weak, tired and wiped out. My dad is keeping in touch daily....I get the odd text from my mum but she isn't up to having a phone conversation....my dad says the strain and emotion would be too much for her.

I just feel so helpless....what I would like you guys opinions on is when should I go back? If this is truly it, I think I need to try to get there for the end....but I worried I might not make it. Obviously I can't go back and wait forever as I have to work and have my daughter here to look after. So pleased we have just been back - next time I'll just go on my own but it is just trying to know the when.....I'm painfully aware that I might miss it - I feel as though I need to be there afterwards mainly to give my support to my dad and sister.

I know quite a few of you all have been in this situation....any tips would be appreciated on this part of the "expat curse".

Thanks everybody
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Originally Posted by Dan725 View Post
Hi guys,

I've read so many threads about this over the years....unfortunately it looks like it is now rapidly heading towards being my turn.

My mum has been battling cancer for the last few years, sometimes doing better than others....but unfortunately now it is starting to look desperate. We were just over in the UK for two weeks for the run up to Christmas. We had a lovely family time during the trip, but I could see just how so tired and very weak she is; I almost think she was hanging on for our visit - she loved spending time with her little granddaughter, but I could see the strain on her and the painful emotions she is experiencing.

No sooner did we leave, a couple of days later (mid last week) she was admitted to the hospital fully time - she is on a blood drip, antibiotics, numerous other procedures going on etc, and is totally weak, tired and wiped out. My dad is keeping in touch daily....I get the odd text from my mum but she isn't up to having a phone conversation....my dad says the strain and emotion would be too much for her.

I just feel so helpless....what I would like you guys opinions on is when should I go back? If this is truly it, I think I need to try to get there for the end....but I worried I might not make it. Obviously I can't go back and wait forever as I have to work and have my daughter here to look after. So pleased we have just been back - next time I'll just go on my own but it is just trying to know the when.....I'm painfully aware that I might miss it - I feel as though I need to be there afterwards mainly to give my support to my dad and sister.

I know quite a few of you all have been in this situation....any tips would be appreciated on this part of the "expat curse".

Thanks everybody
Im so very sorry Dan that you are going thro this - I know exactly how you feel as whilst my mum at the mo isnt in a life threatening situation im back and forth every 8 weeks or so as she is 84 and not well
The question when should you go back is a very difficult one to answer for you as firstly everyone is different and secondly your mums situation can change very quickly - for better or worse. She might well hang on and as you say you cant sit in UK indefinitely
What i do suggest is that you speak to the docs (or your dad but it might well be a too difficult conversation to have with him so the docs would be much better) and ask them very honestly how long in their opinion your mum has. When my dad passed away with cancer they were able to tell us that he wouldnt last the year - in the end i just happened to be around when he passed but that was just coincidence
So a chat with the docs may well help you and remember you have just been here and seen her and had a wonderful time but if need be you can get a very quick flight over
I wish her peace from pain and you and your family well. It truly is the curse of being an expat
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 2:49 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

My sympathies to you too.

My father just died on New Year's day in the UK under similar circumstances to your mother. He was diagnosed terminal at the end of November 2011 so it has been very fast and far too aggressive. We are in a state of shock. The doctor said he had months to live and that to prepare to share his last Christmas. Luckily my brother and his wife started telling me to think in weeks, not months. I managed to take the last two weeks of December to visit and was there with him when he went.

My advice to you is to plan for the worse. You need to say good-bye in the right way for you both. For me that was spread over days and not just a single conversation, as my father had to initiate the conversation. Over three separate days he asked to chat and we talked about many things. The most important thing to me that I said was to thank him for the gift of life, tell him what a wonderful father we all felt him to be, that we love him, and that any worries he might have should be considered forgiven or forgotten by us. My siblings who live in UK with children etc could not spend two straight weeks on a daily basis and so didn't quite get the same chance to talk. The last week he found it increasingly difficult to talk, as he was always tired and in some pain and his voice became no more than a whisper.

So for anyone in the same situation to mine, if in doubt I would say please just go early and make lots of time to sit quietly together and talk. Best wishes to you and your family.

Last edited by chuckles67; Jan 3rd 2012 at 2:53 pm.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 3:09 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Can you afford multiple, short trips? We are now into the most affordable time of year to travel, so if taking an extended break from work is not an option then several trips, perhaps monthly, might be the best way.

Is there someone in the US that can look after your daughter if you go back for weekend trips?

I hope you manage to figure out a solution to this difficult problem.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 3:45 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

My mother died on Christmas Day, 2006, in the nursing home in Sussex where she lived for her last year and a half. In her case there was a bit of a different dynamic.. she was in the last stages of dementia and she died from pneumonia. I flew over immediately, so arrived Boxing Day, and was able to help my sister with the funeral arrangements etc., and be there for the funeral.

Ever since then I've regretted not going over to England a week earlier, and being able to sit with her in her last few days. Whether she was conscious or not I think it would have made a difference both for her and for me.

So I guess if I were you I'd make a trip now and further trips if appropriate.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 4:23 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Lyonsden1193's brother was diagnosed with asbestosis a while back so we knew the inevitable result. His brother came here last year (his last trip out-side the UK), we went to the UK for a holiday in March and we knew the end was coming sooner than we hoped. We got updates from the SIL and other siblings and OH had an opportunity in July to spend a week, on his own, with his brother. We went again in October so I could see him before his "final trip" and very shortly thereafter, he was admitted to hospital where he deteriorated slowly but inexorably. November saw us in the UK again for the funeral.

Four trips in one year were financially painful, but not as painful as the loss of his brother and best friend, or as painful as not seeing him would have been.

Our advice: Go now. Give her as much time as you can.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Much sympathy to you Dan, in this difficult situation. Try and get a heads up from your sister, as she may tell you more than your dad, and the doc's may give her more of a realistic timeline.
We had to go through this in March. My mum (90) fell and broke her hip, so we sort of knew this would be it sooner or later. She lasted a month in hospital. I didn't go immediately, but waited a 2-3 weeks as sis said she's doing fine, which she was. I could see she was getting very weak as she could barely whisper. I asked a long term care nurse whether it would be days or weeks, she said could be tomorrow, could be next week. As it happened she died early the next day, which was a relief for her as she had wanted out of it for a while. BA was very good and rearranged my ticket for another few days so I could attend the funeral.
I would say if you can get your arrangements for work and child care in order, go sometime next week, but look at the cheapest day of the week to fly. Good luck and hugs to you.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 4:38 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

I've thought about this situation myself on multiple occasions while I've lived in Scotland over the last 8 and a half years. My parents aren't in the best of health, but they do not have any potentially terminal illnesses. They've lived in Bangalore, India while I've lived in Scotland and now that I'm moving to California I can't help but feel a little sad as I'll be even further away from them.

I can't really offer any advice about when to go home because nobody can give you an exact estimate of when another human being will pass on. I would only advise you to treat every trip home as though it may be the last time you see your relatives.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 5:16 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

I'm very sorry to hear you going through this!

I don't really have any advice, but you're able to be there for your family.

Though depending on the carrier, you might be able to get open ended tickets as they aren't just for when a family member has passed away, but fewer and fewer airlines are offering this, Virgin and BA still do though as far as I'm aware.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 5:28 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

I went through the same thing with my father in June. Can't give any real guidance beyond, as hard as it is, to do a trip and basically say goodbye. As you say, you can't wait forever unfortunately. And I went with the approach I'd rather say goodbye than desperately attempt to figure out how to be there for the last few hours.

Having said all that...

I did that "goodbye" trip when my father was given 6-weeks. I just couldn't wait 6-weeks (which is of course just an estimate anyway) but booked another flight 6-weeks out exactly. When I left I said "I'll see you in 6-weeks here or 6 decades in a better place!". Sounds silly to make a joke of it, but what can you do?

When I landed after the 6-weeks, my father was rushed to hospital. I literally went from Heathrow to the hospital.

I had a nice chat with him about the kids once he'd been stablised. Watched a little TV.

He passed away 2 days later with me there.

So I did make it. But honestly, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have had any regrets. I'd already said goodbye, had a drink or 2 with him and shared a few jokes.

It was nice I was there for the bitter end and it's one of those things I'll always put down to fate. Someone, somewhere, clearly intended for me to be there!

But if I hadn't made it, I would have had NO regrets. I'd said goodbye, had a couple of drinks and a few jokes... I was happy with that, and more importantly, I honestly think he was too.

I'll find out for sure in 6 decades

Best of luck with it all. I know it's very hard.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 5:33 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

So sorry you are going through this.

I agree ask the doctors, I'm lucky and my SIL is a nurse, when my mum was dying of cancer a few years ago we still lived in the UK, but 200 miles away, my SIL new when she had less than a week and was able to tell me to get there. Likewise when my Dad fell last year and broke his hip and then contracted MRSA she kept telling me he was ok and I didn't need to go home, again she was right. I think people in the medical profession know these things after seeing it for years

My thoughts are with you
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 9:04 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

I am so, so sorry that you are having to go through this. I don't have much advice apart from what the others have said and maybe contact the doctor who is looking after her to get his honest opinion. Unfortunately, it is such a hard thing to judge and maybe no-one can give you the answer you're hoping for. All I would say is go with your gut instinct. If it was me, I would probably go sooner, while she still has the strength and knowledge that you're there, and you can say all the things that you need to at a time like this and to prepare you for what is ahead.

Not an easy situation to be in, and I dread the time I may be in a similar position as yourself, so I can only imagine how hard the next few days/weeks could possibly be for you, and you're lucky that we have so many supportive posters on here to rally round at a time like this.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 9:19 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

I know exactly what your Mum would say ..same as my mum ...
it was great to see you at christmas ..now get back to work and
stop fussing...she knows you have you own life ... just go back for
the funeral..in the meantime send lots of pics for her
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 9:37 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Personally, I would just go back for a week by myself and spend time with mum. Say your goodbyes, and feel good about it.

Not everyone's parents die of cancer. Many die unexpectedly, i.e. car accident, heart attack, stroke, etc., so it's impossible to feel guilty "that you weren't there."

Both of my parents died unexpectedly - not at very old age. It's a terrible shock, but you can't know when every bad occasion is going to happen in life.

Never feel guilty if you aren't there. As long as you enjoyed each other during life, that's what counts.

I'm sorry about your situation - it must be very hard.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 9:53 pm
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Default Re: My mum is losing her fight...when to go?

Thanks for the kind words everybody; really appreciate it. Think I'm getting a pretty good read between my dad and sister...also get the odd text from mum but she is sleeping a lot from the condition and with all the constant procedures, drips, painkillers, antibiotics etc. My dad has said he will call me when he thinks I ought to be on a plane, so that is what I will have to go with I think.

It was great to have that time at Christmas...so pleased we were able to make that trip, first time we have ever been back for a full 2 weeks.

Ray - I know that is what she would say...as far as I can gather, that is in fact what she is saying...so I will wait for my dad to make the call. This time of year the BA flight out of here usually has good availability so I reckon I can get on one fast...hopefully I will make it in time, if not, at least I can be there for everyone else.
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