Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz
Does that mean he suffocated? I hope not. That's a horrible way to go :-(
Dying takes several days or weeks, assuming that death isn't caused by a sudden trauma, such as a gunshot or sudden loss of blood. At any point during the process, the patient can hit a plateau or even get better for a short time, at which time relatives may declare a miracle or think that the patient is getting better. This is difficult for medical personnel, because it is temporary and normal. The dying process is not a straight line.
At the beginning, the patient begins to lose control over his extremities. He is frustrated that he cannot put on his slippers or button his pajamas, for example. He gradually cares about this less and less, and as he becomes bed-bound, he doesn't care.
The patient's consciousness becomes shallower. In the beginning, the patient is lucid and "with it" when he is conscious, but he appears to take frequent naps. in the middle, as his consciousness gradually becomes shallower and the "naps" increase, he is only partially conscious and can only get out a few words. Toward the end, he is rarely conscious, if at all, and can only say a few words at a time. The patient may be incoherent and the voice is barely audible. Family members who can't face what's going on will read meaning into them even though others hear nothing. At the very end, the patient appears to be sleeping.
The person gradually loses interest in food and drink, eventually feeling no discomfort. Toward the end, he won't chew food placed in his mouth and will gently choke if fluid is put in his mouth. At this point, you have to moisten his lips and mouth with a sponge, and that small amount of water may make him cough.
Toward the end, blood pressure falls as the pulse rises into the range of tachycardia. That means the heart is less and less effective, circulation shuts down from the extremities inward, and organ failure begins. The hands and feet become ice cold to the touch, and depending on what position they are in, may turn purple. This is because of a lack of circulation.
Toward the end, the patient breathes mechanically, like he's catching his breath. Breathing becomes shallower and shallower until it's hard to hear.
It's hard to tell when the patient dies, because the only observable change is the lack of breathing. Your mind expects to see a person breathe, so you see the illusion of breathing in your peripheral vision. SInce breathing was so shallow, it takes careful observation and listening to determine that it has stopped.
I saw three people go through this process in hospice care in my house and another in the ICU. Even though that is only four people, nurses and nurses aides, in the course of telling me what to expect, told me that this is the norm.
My father instructed the hospice nurse, the nurse's aides, and me to tell him when he was in the final stage of dying, because he wanted to be paying attention when it happened. He was curious what it was like and didn't want to miss it. On the last day of his life, I told him to pay attention as he had instructed me, but he was unconscious. I doubt that he heard.
Steve Jobs felt no discomfort or pain when he died, mainly because he was not conscious.