Status
Not open for further replies.

mollywo

New member
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
2
Reason
CALS
Diagnosis
10/2011
Country
US
State
MA
City
Northampton
My dad was diagnosed a little over 2 and a half years ago, and at this point his limbs are totally paralyzed but he is still able to eat, drink, and talk (though not extremely well). His breathing is definitely going downhill, as he is on a BiPap machine day and night, and now we are wondering what the typical progression is of the actual end of life with carbon dioxide poisoning. He was admitted to the hospital in April for headaches (which were caused by CO2 poisoning) and started using the BiPap full-time after that. Now he's having a lot of shortness of breath and a much more difficult time breathing, and lately he's been exhibiting more signs of CO2 poisoning (constant headache, grogginess, confusion) but it is unclear what physically happens next. He has been taking Morphine pretty regularly for the last week or so to help ease the feeling of gasping for air.

How long does CO2 poisoning typically take before it kills you? Does anyone have an experience with the end of life/ carbon dioxide poisoning that they wouldn't mind sharing? I just really don't know what else to expect.
 

Annie's Phil

Distinguished member
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
302
Reason
Lost a loved one
Diagnosis
07/2007
Country
US
State
MD
City
Eastern Shore of Maryland
If you control the air hunger, either with drugs or oxygen, death can be very peaceful. Air hunger is the result of lack of O2, so if it is augmented then the air hunger is abated (I know the conventional wisdom is to not administer O2 to ALS patients, but at the end of life it's extremely effective in reducing the anxiety caused by air hunger) but the CO2 continues to accumulate in the blood. Eventually the patient just falls asleep for the last time. This is how my wife departed. She never needed any drugs. We had the O2 concentrator set at 1.5 - 2 liters/min, which is not very high. She progressively slept more and more, and her cognition became progressively affected, but she was always very comfortable and at peace. I'm very grateful for that.
 

mollywo

New member
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
2
Reason
CALS
Diagnosis
10/2011
Country
US
State
MA
City
Northampton
Thank you so much for your comment, Phil. I'm so glad your wife was always able to be comfortable toward the end. That is the goal for us, too. He has been on oxygen (3 liters/min) since the April incident as well, and his O2 levels have been normal since, which is definitely useful. You said she was affected progressively...I'm wondering how long those final symptoms lasted before she eventually fell asleep for the last time. Was it months? Weeks? Days? Thank you for your help!
 

Annie's Phil

Distinguished member
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
302
Reason
Lost a loved one
Diagnosis
07/2007
Country
US
State
MD
City
Eastern Shore of Maryland
Hi Molly,

Annie commented to me a few weeks before she died that she couldn't tell the difference between dreaming and reality anymore. Her thinking got gradually foggier for about the last couple of months, but really accelerated about two weeks before her death. We could still have a reasonably coherent conversation until a little more than a week before the end, but her moments of coherence were intermittent. She started sleeping much more for the last couple of weeks, alternating sleeping 16-24 hours with talking nonstop for about the same period of time.

Her last conscious moment was about 18 hrs before her last breath. She was still able to let me know for certain that she was comfortable and did not want any drugs.
 

Annie's Phil

Distinguished member
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
302
Reason
Lost a loved one
Diagnosis
07/2007
Country
US
State
MD
City
Eastern Shore of Maryland
Maybe I should add that Annie chose not to use a bipap, which I think made the transition easier for her.
 

Barbie

Extremely helpful member
Joined
Dec 29, 2007
Messages
2,659
Reason
Lost a loved one
Diagnosis
01/2007
Country
US
State
FL
City
orlando
Phil, you are such a kind and loving husband and caregiver!

sending you a hug, remembering Annie.
 

JustTrying

Distinguished member
Joined
May 28, 2013
Messages
112
Reason
Other
Country
US
State
Ma
City
xyz
I was thinking the same thing. Your candor is so admiral, Phil. And the love for your wife is so evident.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top