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Dehydration - Help!

Posted by
My mum was admited to hospital yesturday morning with severe dehydration. She has pancreatic cancer which has spread to the liver and is not having any treatment just pain relief etc etc. She has been eating and drinking less and less because nothing tastes right and she has lost her apetite. She collapsed and was taken as an emergency to hospital. Today she hasnt woken up, she has an oxygen mask on to help with her breathing - but she didnt have problems with her breathing before - yesturday she sounded 'drunk' and her speech was slurred when I spoke to her on the phone ( hate hate hate this situation - we live in South London , my parents live 300 miles away on the Isle of Man). No one has told my dad anything and he is beside himself. Is this severe deterioration normal with dehydration - at what point do me and my sister drop everything and go over there? Has anyone had any experience of dehydration and the effects after - does it just take time to be rehydrated or should I start panicing now????
Posted by
hi janey
im so sorry to hear about your mum. my dear dad had pancreatic cancer which spread to his lungs. while he was having chemo he too was rushed into hospital with severe breathing problems. he was on oxygen for a couple of days and deteriorated quite quickly to start with. have you tried talking to the hospital staff over the phone? it must be so dreadful for you living so far away. i was very lucky in that i only live up the road from my mum and i was very involved in my dads dad made a good recovery and spent nine days in hospital but unfortunately the chemo stopped several weeks later. my dad was nursed at home by me my sister and my mum. he too stopped eating and drinking. this probably is not what you want to hear but the mcmillan nurse asked my mum if she wanted my dad to be taken to hospital to be rehydrated if the situation arose. i would advise that you chat with the staff caring for your mum or get your dad to ask questions.i know that when my dad was in for breathing problems they kept measuring his sats levels to see if they were normal or not. i would honestly think that if the staff were very concerned about your mums level of deterioration they would be honest with your dad. my dad deteriorated over a period of two weeks. his breathing was fine but he slept a lot more and they upped the levels of morphine. it sounds as though they are more worried about your mums breathing . my dads breathing was not due to dehydration. i would most definately try and get some answers and then you can decide whether to make the journey to see your mum.i sadly lost my dad to this cruel desease four months ago.he was diagnosed on jan 4th. you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. god bless your dear mum and i hope for better news for you love cazzy x x x
Posted by
Thank you for your reply, my dad is going to try to get some answers today, I have to let him try to deal with it first. When I have spoken to the staff there never seems to be anyone there that is 'dealing' with my mum. I am a bit miffed really as her care in the hospital has always been so good, but my dad said that he feels she is being ignored. I want to be there to support my dad but I cant rush over there all the time unless it is really necessay ( I hate myself for putting it that way - if we could we would be living there through this time). I have three children to sort out before I can go anywhere - oh my gosh - how c**p is all this
Posted by
Hi Janey,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation, having been through it all only recently, with my poor dad. A different cancer, but the scenario much the same.

I can only echo what Cazzy has said, that the hospital should endeavour to tell you, if they think the end is approaching - particularly if your dad explains the situation.

My mum told the nurses she had children living a long way away, who would very much want to come, if they could possibly be given enough notice, so she asked them to TELL her, if they expected the worst.

They are familiar with the signs to look out for, so they did exactly that - told her it was time to call us.

I got a call late on the Tuesday afternoon, that it was time to go over, so I just had time to rush around throwing stuff in a bag, and that was it. When I got to the hospital, Dad had rallied slightly, and was still lucid. We were able to talk slightly about minor matters.

I was glad I'd caught him that evening, and not left it later, because he wasn't really properly conscious again after that time, although he did drift in and out, and at times seemed to recognize us, and say things that made sense.

But the Tuesday night was the last time I was sure he was awake and in his right mind, and not just rambling. So the hospital got it just right, really - in time for me to catch those last precious moments of coherence.

He died early on the Friday morning.

This is quite a controversial thing to say, but I do think the hospital have some influence over it and can, to an extent, arrange it so it happens once the family have gathered. They did not put Dad's morphine up until they knew we'd all arrived to be with him and Mum. The morphine relieves distress and agitation, but at a price: it renders the patient less able to communicate with loved ones, because they get so sleepy, and it also tends to depress breathing, so that it indirectly hastens death. Dad was in such a state that we readily consented, because we couldn't see any point keeping him alive and conscious for just an extra day or two, if it was going to be horrific for him. We just wanted him to be as comfortable and oblivious as possible, really. So we consented, realising the implications, but also guided by Dad's wishes. He had told staff he didn't want to know anything about it, if possible. And as far as they could, they saw to it that was the case.

A very difficult subject, but I hope it helps.

Kind wishes,


Posted by
My dad also had pancreatic cancer and towards the end his breathing was also affected, like some one else said from when his breathing got bad he deterorated quite quickly, probably 2 weeks. My dad was not dehydrated (if he was we werent told which wouldnt suprise me) but we were told his kidneys were failing.
Hope all goes well
Thinking of you
Posted by
Thank you all for your input, a very difficult subject, I am in control today - a rare day!!