A decline towards death – my Grandad

My Grandad (known as Dan) is nearing the end of his life. He has chronic kidney failure, with added heart failure and liver failure for good measure. The kidney failure is the worst of the three. His kidneys were recently functioning at 10%; 3 months before it was at 16%, which is quite a big difference. Usually this kind of drop is brought on by illness or infection, but he wasn’t ill in those 3 months. Since the last function test was done he’s had/got an infected cyst on his back and a slight chest infection.

Kidney failure is shit. Dan is swollen from fluid; he is losing fat weight, but the scales don’t drop because of the fluid. His top half looks Humpty Dumpty – thin arms with a huge belly. Now his legs match his belly…they are so heavy and uncomfortable he shuffles to walk and has to lift his legs up stairs. He is breathless, the tiniest bit of exertion leaves him out of breath. He is going to the toilet frequently, which doesn’t help matters. He doesn’t sleep well, nor does he feel rested when he does sleep. His body is worn out.

Last Tuesday (10th July), we met with the renal nurse to discuss health management, care and medication. There was a prediction of months. By the Friday (13th), we started to think less, as there was a big drop in his health. Today, a week later (20th), a nurse has said ‘only weeks’ when the updated care plan was actioned. Mum & I feel we could now be thinking about days, as when I spoke to her at 6pm, Dan had only had 1 cup of tea and half a tumbler of water because he felt so sick. If he doesn’t give his body any fuel, the end will be quicker. I think he’s given up.

He has carers in 4 times a day now, and from last night has a family member with him 24/7. This means my mum, with me taking over when she’ll let me. D, P & I are doing all day Sunday to let mum have a good break.

Tonight and for the next 2 nights, he has a night sitter to help, as there were a lot of issues for him last night. This is great for my mum, as she’ll get a chance to rest. She has her own medical problems and is disabled with chronic back pain, so can only do so much.

Dan has started with heavier drugs to keep him comfortable and sleepy; he has had a syringe driver fitted. As he gets worse, the drugs will be increased. It really is just a guessing game now, a matter of time…on the 31st of this month, it will be 6 years since my Nan passed away. Maybe he will hang on until then?

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