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Fernspider's avatar

Does anyone know anything about the end stages of liver failure and how long a patient has left?

Asked by Fernspider (3577 points ) December 13th, 2009

My father has been told that he is in the end stages of cirrhosis of the liver. He has previously been told he has ascites and jaundice.

The cause has been excessive drinking for the last 15 years. Although he is no longer drinking, he still had a episode a few weeks back where he was in a complete state of confusion and was hospitalised.

They have drained the fluid from his body and is currently been prescribed a lot of medication to assist his body with flushing out toxins.

My mother told me this evening that he is once again in the hospital and was admitted on Saturday morning. The doctors has said little other than that they believe he is in the late stages of liver failure. Sadly, he is only 54.

Does anyone have any knowledge or experience they can part with… I am having difficulty getting the full story or any information to help me to make a decision. I have booked flights for him to come and spend Christmas with me as it may be his last. I am concerned that he may not make it that long but have no idea.

Would it be wise to fly down to see him in case he goes or do people in late stages usually have weeks to months?

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8 Answers

faye's avatar

I wonder if he will be well enough to fly? I nursed on a palliative care unit and there are so many variables involved in trying to predict how long a patient has to live. If he has a strong heart and healthy lungs? or did he smoke all those years, too? Surely the doctor would give your mother some answers. What a bad time for you, I’m sorry.

Fernspider's avatar

@faye – yeah the flying thing is a concern for me. My Mother is not really keeping me informed to the degree I would like her too. Apparently she is trying to protect my feelings. I only found out that he had gone into hospital again this weekend as a result of me calling her and asking about him on a non-related issue. She said she didn’t want to spoil my weekend and didn’t want me to come rushing down when it may not be as bad as they think! Grrr :(

I feel like my feelings are being spared at the price of being fully informed. I will attempt to get information from the doctors tomorrow… hopefully they will talk to me over the phone about it.

faye's avatar

My unit has phones for the patients and a cordless phone for people in double rooms. Can you talk directly to him? My very beloved friend died if liver failure. He became confused but was aware enough to ask his daughters not to hook him up. He only lived about 2 mos after he found out. It is the build up of ammonia in the brain tissues that causes confusion, so you can understand why that would be near the end.

Fernspider's avatar

@faye – I will likely be able to talk to him but he down plays things to avoid worrying me. I would appreciate more communication and honestly from my parents about this just certainly understand their feelings of “need” to protect me. Although I am 25, they will always see my as their wee girl I think.

If the doctors discharge him (he apparantly discharged himself the last time and told my mother that he was fine), will they advise if air travel is safe?

faye's avatar

I know some of our patients had to have a letter from their doctor saying it was okay for them to fly. I always wonder why they tell the airline anything. Can’t you just get on?

Judi's avatar

I think you should go to him this year. They may not even let him on the plane if he is that sick. These are hard times. You will not forgive yourself if you don’t get there in time.
I am so sorry you are going through this.

MagsRags's avatar

Ask his permission for you to speak to his doctors.They’ll probably need it in writing, but once it’s in place, you can stay updated with accurate information and the best answers they can provide.

Fernspider's avatar

Thanks guys. I called the hospital this morning and spoke to his nurse. She said that the doctors are impressed with how well he has bounced back over the weekend. He has gone from Seriously Ill status to Independent.

She put me through to speak to him but he wasn’t in his bed so I will try again later this morning. I’m really hoping he can make it up as he loves his grandson (Shpanky, and yes he is a dog but our son none the less) and was really looking forward to seeing Shpanky and staying at our house as it is rural and peaceful.

Only time will tell at this stage. The good news is that the nurse said he will definitely make it to Christmas if he remains drink free.

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