Florida woman dies after 42 years in coma


SLM
#1
Florida woman dies after 42 years in coma
By QMI Agency



A Miami woman who spent over four decades in a coma died Wednesday morning in her Miami, Florida home. She was 59.
In 1970, 16-year-old Edwarda O'Bara slipped into a diabetic coma, according to the Miami Herald (external - login to view). Before losing consciousness, she had asked her mother, Kaye O’Bara, to never leave her side.
Her mother had kept her promise. She turned Edwarda every two hours, gave her insulin, fed her through a tube, and kept her company.
Kaye died at 80-years-old, five years ago, as she slept in the same room with her daughter.
Once her mother passed, Edwarda’s sister Colleen took over caring for her sister.
“She taught me so much, and I’m talking about now, after she was in the coma,” Colleen told the Miami Herald. “She taught me so much about unconditional love that I couldn’t say I had it before.”


She said Edwarda seemed relaxed early Wednesday morning.
“Yesterday while taking care of Edwarda I noticed her looking directly at me and [she] gave me the biggest smile I had ever seen,” wrote Colleen on their official website (external - login to view).
After stepping out to get a coffee, she had returned to find her sister unresponsive.
According to Guinness World Records (external - login to view), the longest time anyone has spent in a coma was Elaine Esposito, also of Florida. She spent 37 years, 111 days in a coma after appendix surgery at 6-years-old.



Florida woman dies after 42 years in coma - World - Canoe.ca (external - login to view)


Wow, 42 years!



I have really conflicting emotions over this story. On the one hand I find the compassion and love displayed by this family in caring for this woman for so many years to be both heartwarming and amazing. It would take real dedication and commitment. On the other hand though if this were my loved one, I think I'd feel almost guilty keeping them going with what, in my assessment, would be zero quality of life. Ultimately these choices are for individuals and their families to make, of course, but I just don't know if I find it sad or a sense of relief that she's died.
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#2
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

I have really conflicting emotions over this story. On the one hand I find the compassion and love displayed by this family in caring for this woman for so many years to be both heartwarming and amazing. It would take real dedication and commitment. On the other hand though if this were my loved one, I think I'd feel almost guilty keeping them going with what, in my assessment, would be zero quality of life. Ultimately these choices are for individuals and their families to make, of course, but I just don't know if I find it sad or a sense of relief that she's died.

The catch-22. She was not on life support. There was no plug to pull. The only option to end life would be murder and illegal. I believe in this case there was genuine compassion on the other hand, they had a strict legal obligation to do what they did.
 
SLM
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiingView Post

The catch-22. She was not on life support. There was no plug to pull. The only option to end life would be murder and illegal. I believe in this case there was genuine compassion on the other hand, they had a strict legal obligation to do what they did.

Well there was a feeding tube and insulin injections, but I'm not trying to say that they should have ended her life. Just it's more of an overall emotional reflection of the situation itself.
 
Praxius
+3
#4  Top Rated Post
42 years in a coma?

If it was me, shoot me.... Toss me over the ledge of the hospital roof, strap a suicide vest on me triggered to a cell phone & run.... But all be fk'd if I ever ask someone to never leave my side for the rest of their life. My life is already wasted, no sense at wasting theirs as well.

Which type of love is more unconditional? Asking others to spend the rest of their lives taking care of your veg'd body, or self sacrifice sooner so they can move on with their lives?

Turned her every two hours and gave her insulin?

Every day, every two hours to turn her....

It wasn't just one person's life that ended the day she went into a coma.
 
shadowshiv
+1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by PraxiusView Post

Turned her every two hours and gave her insulin?

Every day, every two hours to turn her....

This reminds me of the hatch from the television series Lost. Every 102 minutes, a person had to enter a code otherwise something very bad would occur. Obviously I am not making light of the situation here, I am just showing the parallel. Not ever being able to get a good sleep, and not really having much of a life outside of caring for the woman in the coma(never being able to leave the hatch for very long).

The mother(now passed), and the sister showed great compassion, but they also had to sacrifice a lot(too much, perhaps?).

To be honest, if I was going to be in a coma and it looked like I would never wake up I would not want to "live" like that, especially for 42 years. Besides basically being dead to the world, I would be a huge burden on my loved ones(both physicall, mentally, and financially). I wouldn't want to get "tossed off a cliff" or anything like that, but if I passed peacefully it wouldn't be a bad thing.
 
SLM
+1
#6
I have to wonder, when someone is in a state where they can't communicate, need to be turned every two hours, fed through a tube and we are doing all of that, who are we really doing it for? Is it for them? For ourselves? It's not just the burden aspect, although speaking from the point of view of the person who would need the care I would not want to burden others either, but the question that I ask is, where does compassion really lie?
 
shadowshiv
+1
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

I have to wonder, when someone is in a state where they can't communicate, need to be turned every two hours, fed through a tube and we are doing all of that, who are we really doing it for? Is it for them? For ourselves? It's not just the burden aspect, although speaking from the point of view of the person who would need the care I would not want to burden others either, but the question that I ask is, where does compassion really lie?

To be honest, I hope I never have to answer those questions for myself. It is not an easy situation at all!
 
SLM
+1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by shadowshivView Post

To be honest, I hope I never have to answer those questions for myself. It is not an easy situation at all!

I hope I never have to either. But that was what struck me when I first read the article. I still can't decide whether I'm saddened for this family's loss or whether it's a sense of bittersweet relief that I feel for all of them. It's all very emotionally complicated these situations. I don't fault anyone for making the choices they make, but I can't help but feel like no matter what choice you make you'll be haunted by 'what ifs', you know?
 
shadowshiv
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

I hope I never have to either. But that was what struck me when I first read the article. I still can't decide whether I'm saddened for this family's loss or whether it's a sense of bittersweet relief that I feel for all of them. It's all very emotionally complicated these situations. I don't fault anyone for making the choices they make, but I can't help but feel like no matter what choice you make you'll be haunted by 'what ifs', you know?

I definitely think they are feeling a mixture of both. Of course, after having taken care of her for so long, what do they do now? That was such a defining part of their lives(well, only the sister's life now, since the mother had passed on a while back) for such a long time!
 
SLM
+1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by shadowshivView Post

I definitely think they are feeling a mixture of both. Of course, after having taken care of her for so long, what do they do now? That was such a defining part of their lives(well, only the sister's life now, since the mother had passed on a while back) for such a long time!

And that's what I feel for her, a mixture of sadness and relief on her behalf.
 
shadowshiv
+1
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

And that's what I feel for her, a mixture of sadness and relief on her behalf.

In a way, she was also trapped in a prison of sorts, just like her sister in the coma was.
 
SLM
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by shadowshivView Post

In a way, she was also trapped in a prison of sorts, just like her sister in the coma was.

I'd imagine so. As to the sister, I imagine she was kept and cared for out of love of course, but even though she says it was a positive experience for her, I can't help but feel for her. We do what we do for friends and family out of love and compassion but that doesn't mean it doesn't weigh on us. It has too.

Maybe I'm just projecting too because I have some caretaker duties and it weighs heavily upon me.
 
Praxius
+1
#13
The other factor is that she was 16 years old and pretty scared (I would imagine) when she asked her mom not to leave her side.... As a parent it would be quite hard to ignore a request from you young & scared child.... And she perhaps thought she'd come out of it.

But geez...
 
L Gilbert
+1
#14
42 years is nuts. Not even sure about 4 years, but at 60 yrs old it'd take even more years to get back motor skills and muscle back to any decent point, not to mention any knowledge and the like that might have been lost.
 
damngrumpy
#15
It comes down to an individual thing, the person was alive and you were a family member
Imagine if you were the one who under our law pulled the feeding tube and watched a
family member starve to death? That would have implications too wouldn't it especially
for the living. It would also be a serious situation if you requested "shoot me" for example.

My mother fell seriously ill for nearly two decades, for that last eight years she had to live
in a home, my father was too old to care for her alone. Every day of those eight years he
spent at the home from 9am to 6pm caring for her every need. Not once did he think of
shortening that journey.

Dedication has its own reward and that comes from the inner spirit of the person who is
caring for a loved one. The people who cared for this woman must have had the ultimate
vision of compassion perhaps something we can all learn from
 
gerryh
#16
16 eh... poor girl probably never got laid.... then again.... maybe she did... ya never know.
 
Praxius
+1
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by damngrumpyView Post

It comes down to an individual thing, the person was alive and you were a family member
Imagine if you were the one who under our law pulled the feeding tube and watched a
family member starve to death? That would have implications too wouldn't it especially
for the living. It would also be a serious situation if you requested "shoot me" for example.

My mother fell seriously ill for nearly two decades, for that last eight years she had to live
in a home, my father was too old to care for her alone. Every day of those eight years he
spent at the home from 9am to 6pm caring for her every need. Not once did he think of
shortening that journey.

Dedication has its own reward and that comes from the inner spirit of the person who is
caring for a loved one. The people who cared for this woman must have had the ultimate
vision of compassion perhaps something we can all learn from

And at the same time, I saw my grandmother avoid telling anybody she was having a stroke for days because she knew she would never come back out of the hospital (after already having a series of them and a heart attack here and there) and was only taken to the hospital after my grandfather could see a number of signs that something was wrong, even when she told him she was fine.

She spent two weeks in the hospital on life support with a tube down her throat and loaded up on drugs.... something she didn't want. Of course my father's side of the family are Roman Catholic and don't believe in "Assisted Suicide" & that you need to stay alive no matter what (when in reality and in her case, it would have been natural causes that caused her death and God's Will) and human intervention took over.

I went back to my home town from Halifax after hearing what was going on and I walked in to see everybody just standing around quiet.... they woke her up for me to say hi (or goodbye I suppose) and she looked me right in the eyes & raised her head to try and say something and everybody around me just told her to relaxed, try not to use too much energy and go back to sleep.... she just gave up against the drugs and went back to sleep.

Of course if anybody wanted to know the damn truth, they would have given her a pen and paper to write something since her hand was free and able to function.... funny how nobody thought to do that for her to communicate.

My grandfather was devastated by the situation and me being younger than I am today, surrounded by my older generation of parent / uncles and aunts, I didn't think it was my place to say or do anything, but I could tell in her eyes that she wanted this to end.... she obviously didn't want to be in that position in the first place or else she wouldn't have kept her condition a secret for so long and hoped for it all to end while she was at home where she belonged.

After it was coming up to two weeks they had no choice but to take her off life support to see if she would survive on her own or not, because by that time the damage from the machines would have been irreversible anyways.

And she died.

To this very day I regret not saying anything to the rest of my family or to try and get some communication from my grandmother so they could hear her wishes. Though, chances are they wouldn't haven listened anyway.

Grumpy, while I know that situation you told was difficult for all who was involved and while I can completely agree that there are "Implications for the Living"..... It's not about them, it's not about making those around the sick person feel good about themselves, it's about what is best for the sick person and whether or not you can do good by them in the long run.

Making yourself feel bad and making a difficult decision, imo, is a great sacrifice of your own in that you're willing to make such a decision for their betterment, at the expense of hurting yourself.

But every situation is different.... the situation I experienced was not the one you described, nor was it the situation my Grandfather or his children experienced.... mine was my own, thus I can only speak for my own.

As you said..... it's an Individual Thing.
 
Kreskin
+1
#18
My dad wasn't technically in a coma, but for 5 years he couldn't eat, stand, talk or do anything for himself after a major stroke. Shortly after the stroke the hospital gave my mom the choice; with no way to know if he will ever get better you can have him tube fed and see what happens or you can let him go, basically starve him to death. She couldn't let him go.

Once established that he wouldn't improve she couldn't find it in her to pull his feeding tube. She visited him every day. Meanwhile, because there was no quality of life, all of us were hoping he would pass on. Yet 5 years later when he did we still weren't emotionally ready for it.
 
karrie
#19
she looked at her sister and smiled? and sis carried on with her day as usual? that's an odd coma is it not?
 
petros
#20
That's a long time to be watching TV non-stop.
 
EagleSmack
+1
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

My dad wasn't technically in a coma, but for 5 years he couldn't eat, stand, talk or do anything for himself after a major stroke. Shortly after the stroke the hospital gave my mom the choice; with no way to know if he will ever get better you can have him tube fed and see what happens or you can let him go, basically starve him to death. She couldn't let him go.

Once established that he wouldn't improve she couldn't find it in her to pull his feeding tube. She visited him every day. Meanwhile, because there was no quality of life, all of us were hoping he would pass on. Yet 5 years later when he did we still weren't emotionally ready for it.

That was a harsh choice. What a tough decision either way. What spouse would starve their spouse to death.

I hope I never become a burden like that to anyone.
 
CanIrish
#22
that is a very touching story... because it shows the real and true love of a mother
and there is nothing like the love of a mother..
 
SLM
+1
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

My dad wasn't technically in a coma, but for 5 years he couldn't eat, stand, talk or do anything for himself after a major stroke. Shortly after the stroke the hospital gave my mom the choice; with no way to know if he will ever get better you can have him tube fed and see what happens or you can let him go, basically starve him to death. She couldn't let him go.

Once established that he wouldn't improve she couldn't find it in her to pull his feeding tube. She visited him every day. Meanwhile, because there was no quality of life, all of us were hoping he would pass on. Yet 5 years later when he did we still weren't emotionally ready for it.

Wow, what an impossible burden to put on a family, to ask them to make that decision.

Far, far different, in my mind, than removing machinery that is keeping people alive like artificially sustaining heart and breathing functions for instance.

But I don't think you ever are prepared for it. We all think we are getting prepared when we have someone we love that has a terminal condition, but we can't 'pre-grieve'.

Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

she looked at her sister and smiled? and sis carried on with her day as usual? that's an odd coma is it not?

I think caregivers of those in a vegetative state project those kind of 'reactions' upon the patient, especially when they have to care for them day in and day out. We always hear things said like "I know they smiled a little" or "I swear I saw a reaction" when in reality there was no higher brain function present. I kind of see it as filling in the gaps of the relationship if you take my meaning.
 
Dixie Cup
#24
I think that's why in Canada, most doctors and hospitals encourage people to have a "personal directive" which indicates your wishes. It's then put in the "system" so that should something happen, your wishes are accommodated. It takes the decision-making out of the hands of family who love and care about you but are too emotional to perhaps make the choices you would want. I still don't have one but almost invariably my doctor and, when I've gone to the hospital for tests or whatever, ask me if I have one and encourage me to make one. It's one of the things on my "to-do" list early next year. Also deciding where I want to be put to rest, etc. Hubby and I are now thinking about such stuff so that our relatives don't have to worry about it. Kinda sucks but needs to be done.

JMO
 
spaminator
#25
I've heard stories of people who were in comas for years and could see, hear and feel, were unable to communicate. eg. overheard nasty comments by doctors and nurses, rough treatment, etc.
 
Retired_Can_Soldier
#26
Bummer. Good thing they kept her alive or she would have missed the internet... Oh nevermind..
 

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