Too soon for palliative care?

Can I have some advice, please? Here’s a timeline to explain the situation we find ourselves in, regarding my mum and her recent stroke. She is 76, has never smoked or drunk much alcohol, and is otherwise in good health.

Dec 28 - mum visited the GP with a heart rate of 38, and a BP of 202/66 - sent home.

 Jan 6 - visited A&E as felt confused and dizzy, heart rate of 36, and a BP again of over 200 + a chest infection for which she was given amoxycillin. An ECG was clear.

Jan 9 - called an ambulance as not feeling right. Paramedics discovered, via ECG, that she was in complete heart block. She was taken to hospital.

Jan 10 - sitting up in bed, alert, waiting for pacemaker op

Jan 11 - pacemaker op due in the morning, but mum had ‘an episode’ at about 7am which we now believe was a small stroke. A CT scan showed nothing, and she was too agitated for an MRI. Her pacemaker was put in late this day, under a general. She came round, and drank some tea. This was the last time we’ve heard her speak.

Jan 12 - she was unresponsive and very agitated in bed. She was sedated. The CCU thought she could have had a stroke (but still nothing on CT scan), and they began treating her for her chest infection, sepsis, possible meningitis and encephalitis. She then became rigid with posturing at some point.

Jan 13 - 16 - in CCU, mum underwent IV antibiotic treatment for infections and seizures, along with CT scans. On 16 Jan, a CT scan finally showed a massive stroke - bilateral, caused by a clot in the fork of the basilar artery - likely as a result of the pacemaker. The stroke is mainly to the left side of her bran, but is in both.

Jan 16 - moved to general stroke ward, where she has remained since.

So - all this has happened over two weeks. To us as a family, she has been deep, deep down in a coma, but has started to open her eyes, she can grip with both hands, *seems* to respond to certain sounds, and is making some groaning noises - possibly trying to speak. She also, unfortunately, is now pulling out her NG tube (feeding and antibiotics). 

However, the medical staff say that they have seen no real improvement. She is about 6/7 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. They now want to discuss palliative care for mum, rather than rehabilitation.

My questions are: 

1) after just two weeks, given all she has been through, is it is too soon to be thinking about palliative care? What length of time could be considered reasonable? 

2) If you’ve had experience of this type of stroke, what was the outcome? 

The message we’ve heard most is that strokes take TIME to recover from.


We don’t, of course, want her to suffer, but we do want to give her time for a chance.

Please accept my message of best wishes. What a terrible situation.

I am not qualified to answer your questions. Apart from confirming that stroke recovery takes years not weeks.

There is always hope


I wanted to echo the message from Colin, that I'm so sorry to hear of your situation and send you best wishes. 

I'm not qualified to answer your question either - however - wherever your mum is given care there's nothing to stop you and family members trying different techniques to help with rehabilitation. 

I watched a documentary about palliative care not so long ago - a man who had been unresponsive for over a month made a full recovery. 

Don't lose hope...