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JENNAMARIE, May 3,  2020  10:16am EST

Untreated Heart Failure

Hello everyone, I am here on the behalf of my Mother-in-law living with Heart Failure symptoms. I only say symptoms, because my mother-in-law refuses any medical attention, not even a visit to her family doctor. My family and I believe with all her symptoms she has last stages of Heart Failure. It has been progressing fir the last couple of years, and now she can barely get around and is only skin and bones besides her very swollen legs. She is only 63 years old, but she also has diabetes. She will not get help because she is too afraid to know. We are coming to terms with the inevitable that she will die without medical attention. What I would like help with is what should we expect in these last stages. It's just heartbreaking to watch such a young women die without ever trying to live. 


5 Replies
  • AmbassadorB
    AmbassadorB, May 5,  2020  10:56am EST


    The obvious first thought, is:  I assume that your Mother- in- Law has refused all medical attention - including a family doctor's visit at home - with no obligation.  And, assurances that there won't be any surgical procedures, nor hospital visits withour her approval. 

    Options at this point ?  (a)  Review her situation with a psychiatrist, looking for possible avenues to change her outlook on her current health and a happy future.  (b) Seek her participation and involvement in "important" family matters.   Her thoughts and suggestions on a "serious" problem that is impacting family activities - other than her health.  An ongoing issue.  (c)  Any special friend or relative that she would enjoy seeing?  Get any such folks involved.   Maybe a surprise visit from an old friend.  Future "together" activities a goal.

    There is apparently an obstacle or problem that your Mother- in- Law has decided to by pass/ ignore.   Her fear of a painful medical procedure, or a long and difficult period following surgery?    Lots of material is available that addresses this subject and reasons that it should not be an issue.  Finally, attempt to introduce a program (correct meals for her, helpful exercise and mental challenges) that will put her on the right path.    Brain games - puzzles?    

    Something new and out of the everyday ordinary routine should give you an opportunity to judge her reaction and possible approval.  Find that "thing" that will change her defeatest attitude!

    Best of luck and keep us posted!

    Ambassador    B     Bernie 


  • JamesPL
    JamesPL, May 5,  2020  11:09am EST

    Hi Jenna,

    I am very sorry for this difficult time you and your family are enduring with your mother-in-law. Are there resources you can contact within your community that may help you with trying to get her to seek medical attention? Do you think she would want hospice care eventually? I'm sure you want what's best for her and to also honor her wishes but you are right in that it is so difficult to give up without having tried to fight. This is especially true given the technological advances we've made in treating heart disease. If she truly wants to deny medical treatment, then you can only do your best to make her comfortable. But if there is any chance that those wishes aren't sincere, take that opportunity to get her the care she needs.

    Thinking about you all during this difficult time.



  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC, May 6,  2020  8:52pm EST

    Good evening Jenna, 

    Welcome to the Support Network, as we welcome you with heart. My fellow Ambassdaors have provided great encouragement. I would like to underscore a  statement you made re “ She will not get help because she is too afraid to know”.  Based on my personal experience with heart valve *******, one of the biggest fears I had was the unknown. Your mother in law may just be feeling the same. If we as patients don’t quite fully understand our diagnosis, it’s easy to walk the other way. I encourage you to enlist the help as Ambassdaor B suggested, of others, that she can trust. That said, knowledge is power. The resources that Katie referenced would be a great place for the person trusted to convey this information to your mother in law. Perjaos similiar stories as well from the support network that she can relate to, may help. 

    Our thoughts and prayers for strength are with you. 

    With heart, 

    Ambassador C ❤️


  • jerzeycate
    jerzeycate, May 8,  2020  11:18am EST


    My heart is breaking reading your post. On Tuesday my 56 year old cousin **** from a Heart ******. She loved life, had regular physicals, and probably would have done anything she could have to have been able get treatment and continue her life. 

    My mother **** of CHF about 6 years ago. While she was diagnosed and saw physicians for her cardiac issues, she did not make any of the lifestyle changes that are so necessary to live with CHF. It was like being tied to a chair and forced to watch someone **** themselves. That experience makes me wonder if your Mother-In-Law  may have simply lost her will to live. I say that because Depression, even a Majjor Depression, is also a physical illness which can in fact develop concurrent with, or even before a person develops cardiac issues. IfShe is suffering with depression all of her thoughts and decisions are clouded by the darkenss Depression carries into the soul. This may be something for you, the family, to discusss with her physician. 

    The other point I latched onto was your statement that she is nothing but skin and bones. If she has lost a significant amount of weight, especially in a short ****** of time, her judgement may be clouded by the mental and emotional changes that can accompany wasting, malnutrition, or several other disorders. Or the weight loss can also be another indicator of a Major Depression.

    The  issues are complicated and really need a physician, skilled in patients with these types of complicated isses who have heart *******/disorders.

    I was 52 when a viral infection damaged the electrical system in my heart and left me with multiple diagnoses (including CHF) and a treatment plant that called for my husband to "Take her home. Make her comfortable. Get her affairs in order."

    That was over 7 years ago.

    I did everything the doctors recommended and have gone from having 10% heart function to currently having 55% heart function and No Symptoms of CHF at this time. Now, I am far from cured and it has been a long complicated journey, but I would do anything I have to to be able to live. I believe this is the case for Most people, which is why I raise the concerns about Major Depression.

    Feeling hopeless is a very lonely, bleak place to be. IT is even more devastating to the patients family.

    Your mother-in-law needs medical attention.

    While I firmly believe that each of us has a right to plot our own destiny, I also know that there are times when, for multiple reasons including Major Depression, thinking becomes so clouded tha others must intervene and make decisions until we are stable enough to think things through clearly.

    As for what is to come--no one knows. She could live in her current condition for years or pass tomorrow. I do know that it will not be pleasant. 

    When I intervened with my mother and her doctors forced treatment because she was a danger to herself due to Major Depression, many were highly critical of the actions I took. But, I knew that  once Mom ****, I would be the one who would have to live with the decisions I made. I needed to know that I had done everything possible to help her see that life did have good things. She didn't buy into the treatment for depression. I mourn her even today, but know I did everything I could do.

    IT may be time for you and your husband to go in and see her physician. Have a frank discussion. Ask him/her about possible depression, or other conditions that can complicate her medical picture (including the mental health aspects). Ask for direction. Then follow it.

    This way, regardless of what happens to her, you will know that you did everything you could in the situation you found your family found itself.

    Once I realized that I was Brave Enough...Everything Changed..

    It's A Great Day To Be Alive....


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