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Her Last Days

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Her Last Days
Jody Seibold
Hondros College

Abstract
My research paper is dedicated to my mother and her last days on this earth. Our nightmare started on September 17, 2012, this is when we were told that my mom had stage four pancreatic cancers that had spread to all of the lobes of her liver, spleen, and large intestine. We went to this appointment thinking she would be able to be treated not to get a death sentence. By the time we found out her cancer had already spread. She was offered chemotherapy but she declined it because at best, it would only prolong her life a month maybe two. She wanted to live her life to the fullest and not be sick from chemo. At that moment every minute was precious time left with mom and I wanted to be by her side every minute of every day. This is the true story of a beautiful life cut short from cancer.

Her Last Days
This research paper will explain the main function of the pancreas and why pancreatic cancer is it so deadly? It will reveal how a person can live without a complete pancreas? This essay will cover the five stages of grief my mother experienced. I will attempt to explain the emotional aspect my mother went through. It will also talk about hospice and how they assisted us through the process. Lastly, my paper will cover how strong my mother’s faith in God was and still is.
What is the main function of the pancreas? This gland is positioned in the epigastric portion of the abdomen tuck in behind the stomach (NCBI, 2011). The pancreas has very important jobs in the body in order to sustain life. The pancreas secretes special hormones called insulin and the insulin binds with the glucose. This is a delicate balance that constantly goes on in the body. If the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin to bind with the glucose then the blood sugar goes too high and can cause a lot of different health issues. In this case the patient is insulin dependent and needs insulin in order to control the blood sugar. Diabetes type two is mainly controlled by diet and exercises making these patients have to limit their carbohydrate intake. This form of diabetes develops mainly from a sedentary life style. As well as type one, diabetes type two has a host of health issues associated with it if the blood sugar is not controlled. The Pancreas also aids in digestion by secreting enzymes the help to break down certain foods. The pancreas produces one point five to two liters per day of pancreatic juice. These juices are mainly made up of water and also have salt, sodium bicarbonate and digestive enzymes that help to break down and digesting food. Sodium bicarbonate counteracts the acidic gastric juice in the form of semi-digested food (NCBI, 2011).
Why pancreatic cancer is it so deadly? Pancreatic cancer is normally detected at a late stage because it does not cause signs until it's too late. The most common signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer is weight loss, abdominal and back pain (Moyer, 2011). By the time the patient goes to the doctor with symptoms the cancer is already spread everywhere. The call pancreatic cancer the silent killer because once you are diagnosed it is too late. How can a patient live with just a small piece of the pancreas? The tumor is removed and just a small piece is left to function to regulate the insulin. However, most of the patients do not die because of the pancreatic cancer; they most commonly die of liver failure due to the damage caused by the cancer.
As I watched my mother and father I could see how she used the five stages of grief. At first we were all in denial because after all she was still living her life like normal. During this time my mom asked me countless of time if I thought they could be wrong, she held on to hope to the very end; however, I would not lie to her but I did tell her I believed in miracles, she did as well. Her next stage was anger; however, she was never mad at God. At first she tried to protect us all by trying to hide her sorrow and internal rage but she eventually opened up to us. She really did not enter the bargaining stage. My father spent a lot of time in that stage. He would have given his life ten times over, than to watch her die. Mom spent most of her time depressed. I would try to imagine how she felt but I know I did not even come close to really knowing how she truly felt. My dad is now going back and forth between anger and depression. They say the last step is acceptance but I do not know if this exists for everyone. To me she looked like she no longer had the energy to be depressed so by default I guess she entered the acceptance stage (Grief, 2012).
I watch my mother die a little each day and all I could do was comfort her to the best of my ability. She did not like to be alone; it was such a comfort to her to have someone close to her. I focused on anything I could to try and comfort her like having the heating pad already warm and under her covers after her bath because she would freeze getting out of the tub. I bought her a heating blanket so she could watch TV in the family room and not freeze. She had two favorite things she liked, the first one was to have her back rubbed and massaged. The second one was a heating wrap I would put in the microwave to heat up and placed it around her neck when she was cold.
Hospice was not what I thought it would be. I guess I held the hospice nurses to a much higher standard then I should have. Their function was to get medications and equipment. The RN assigned to my mother would stop out and take vitals and visit with mom a bit but that was it. Close to the end the registered nurses do not spend the night, they would send an LPN. If the patient died during the night the LPN had a set protocol to follow. Maybe I did not see the need for these people because I Barb and I have a much better understanding than the rest of our family. We received so some much more instruction and warmth from the RN’s that attended mom church in one visit than we did the whole tome they were caring for her.
My mother had a faith like no other. She full heartedly believed in God and she knew she was heaven bound. She was completely at peace with that aspect of dying. The thing that hurt her the most was leaving dad5. She had taken care of him for forty eight years. She made him have his back surgery while she was still here so she could be there for him as much as possible. She needed to know he was going to be alright. She went to the store and bought him several pairs of underwear and socks because she was afraid he would run out after she was gone. Her whole life revolved around him and us kids. She was the best mom ever.
This research paper explained the main function of the pancreas and why pancreatic cancer is it so deadly. I explained how a person can live without a complete pancreas and why a little piece is left behind. The five stages of grief I experienced both of my parents going through. I tried to explain the emotional aspect my mother went through and what seemed to help. I discussed my outlook about hospice and how they assisted us through the process. Lastly, demonstrated how strong my mother’s faith in God was and still is.

References
Grief - PubMed Health. (2012). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002497/
How does the pancreas work? - Informed Health Online - NCBI Bookshelf. (2011). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK65273/
Moyer, M. (2011). Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Deadly?: Scientific American. Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-is-pancreatic-cancer-so-deadly-steve-jobs…...

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