Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hard Choices: Doing the Unthinkable

Mother is at the end of her life.

Mom is in the last stage of her liver disease, which shut down her kidneys, and is in extreme pain. Two weeks ago I delivered the news to her that dialysis was her only choice. I was selfish. I didn't want her to die just yet. I kind of talked her into having it done. While she was having it done, she was voicing her choice that she really didn't want it done.

I honestly thought that she would get better and come home. It wasn't meant to be. She is in intensive care with no hope of recovery. Two days ago, the nurse came to her room to administer dialysis. She told her "No." She then proceeded to take all of the tubes and needles, etc. out of her arms. She even grabbed a nurse by her shirt in an effort to keep her away from her. SHE DOESN'T WANT MORE DIALYSIS TREATMENTS.

My dad called me to tell me that the nurses had called him to tell him this. I called the nurse in hopes of talking my mom into having it done. The nurse told me that she really needs it done right then and there. She was sedated and given dialysis.

She is not breathing on her own, her blood pressure is so low that she needs 2 medicines to keep it at minimum functioning level, her heart is alive because of her defribillator pacemaker. If it senses that her heart rate is dropping, it shocks her. She has a living will that states that she does not want resuscitators or extreme measures taken to prolong her life. We have failed her.

She is in so much pain, is jaundiced, her eyes are yellow, her stomach is enormously swollen, as are her feet, legs and arms. Her face has sunken and is barely recognizable. She has lost her speech ability.

My brothers and sister came 2 weeks ago to see her, so she was satisfied that she had seen all of her children. We all saw how much pain she was in and wished nothing but the best for her.

We all spoke to each other yesterday and came to the consensus that we would rather see her go with her Saviour than watch her suffer any longer. I told my father that we, her children, wished that all equipment, dialysis and test be stopped and that only comfort measures be taken until the end of her life. He refused at first, but then called me about an hour ago and agreed. I am beside myself and ache so badly. Deep down I know that she doesn't want to go on, so we can at least give her her last wish and let her go in peace. If this were happening to me, I would make the same choice.

She tried so hard to be a good christian woman. She tried to keep her family together. She tried.
We didn't have an adversarial relationship, but it was not a really close relationship. Now that she is at the end of her life, I regret the wasted time. I always made sure that my children knew their grandparents and always gave her pictures of the kids. I wish I had done more. Now is too late.

Life sometimes is a bitch, then you die. Let this be a cautionary tale. Mend your fences before it is too late. You only get one life to live and you never know when your number is up.