Tales From The Crypt (?)

Yesterday, while chatting in the intensive care unit waiting room, my brother hacked up a most juicy morsel regarding family dynamics.  While my brother was visiting Mom on Mother’s Day, she called the assembled children together to provide some “direction” regarding the worst case post-surgical scenario.  At the table were my brother, my niece, DQ, and my sister, S (the weepin’ wailer). 

Mom wanted them all to fully comprehend her desire not to be prematurely taken off life support.  S, of course, waved her arms and quit listening, deflecting all that nasty reality Mom offered.  DQ and my brother nodded, acknowledged her wishes and continued to listen.  Further, Mom made it clear that daisyfae – as the holder of medical/durable power-of-attorney – was not to make a unilateral decision on this matter, without consulting the rest of the family.

i’m not surprised that Mom emphasized this point to my siblings. 

She and i ultimately had to “agree to disagree” regarding the decision to end life support measures for Dad after he became non-responsive – not whether to do so, but when.  He had made it clear – at least to those paying attention – that he wanted no heroic measures, did not want to suffer, and did not want to linger on life support.  After five days, and many obtuse discussions with his physicians, it was clear that he would not recover.  In fact, on the fourth day, DQ and i were beside his bed.  During a brief moment of mental alertness – although he couldn’t speak – he looked from one of us to the other, vigorously shaking his head “no”.

i had no doubts.  But ultimately, Mom had to be comfortable with the decision.  For the next five days i made sure she was present for all medical discussions with staff – i asked pointed questions*, they gave squishy answers.  On the 6th day she signed the “do not resuscitate” order.  By the 7th day, it was a grim, agonizing wait… Finally, on the 10th day, with the entire family present she said “daisyfae** thinks it’s time… i guess we should…”

Fast forward to current events.  i had to chuckle when my brother told me she was adamant that there must be a family discussion and family decision before drastic measures are taken.

Does she really think i’m going to harvest her organs and sell her kidneys on eBay? 

For christsake, if she’d taken better care of herself they might be worth something… i may be heartless, but i’ve got some business sense.


* Doctors won’t tell you “it’s over”.  They will eventually say “we’ve done all we can do and he’s not getting better” if you press them.  Competitive bastards… i think they just hate losing.

** i was ok with her need to put it on me.  Annoyed, but ok.  Dad and i had even discussed this part… it was part of my annointment as “number one son“.

16 thoughts on “Tales From The Crypt (?)

  1. Between your boy child’s pimpin’ expertise and your Kidneys ‘R’ Us endeavor, I’m convinced you could run just about any business.

  2. gnu – i’ll add it to my “bartending” plan for retirement. keep a bathtub full of ice in the back room for really drunk folks. will need a pilot to fly organs to hospitals with the high bid. know any commercial pilots?

    uw – Good plan! “Pimp UR Baby Oven” it shall be! i will need a logo for the website.

    uw (again) – perhaps the logo for “Pimp UR Baby Oven” can be a pink candy corn? those are the “identicons” that wordpress has thrust upon us – for non-wordpress commentators. i liked the critters better than the quilts. seem the “pink korn” is now associated with your ip address.

  3. My late wife had signed her own “DNR”. I wasn’t even aware she had done so until her doctor pointed it out to me and made sure the home care nurses, etc. knew about it the day before she died. In retrospect, her doctor was pretty good about it. I remember calling her up on Wednesday (day before LW died) to describe my observations and ask how much time. She said “days”, although I now think she could as well have said “hours”. She had done quite a bit of palliative care work.

    I’m sorry that you carry both the burden for your Mom plus have to deal with her fear that you will “push her over” too soon. I can’t imagine having to be in that position, although as bona fide number one son, there may come a time when I have to be. Again.

    Family dynamics are fun, aren’t they?

  4. Being “pushed over too soon” was one of my late husband’s concerns too. I still bear the scars of the “honor” of being the holder of the powers.

    However, I bullied both my parents into getting directives. I didn’t want it to come down to a “family decision” which ultimately would mean “me” – again.

    I had to laugh at the “harvesting organs for eBay”. Sorry.

  5. i watched a doco on tv not so long ago where a 65 year old woman with cancer had Do Not Rescusitate tattooed on her chest because her family said they wouldn’t support her decision

  6. The problem with elders isn’t the families pushing them over too soon, it’s letting them linger, trying something new, just hoping a worn out body will come back. People don’t understand that it practically takes an Act of God plus an Act of Congress to get someone off life support even with a DNR order. People run up 75% of their lifetime medical bills in the last 6 months of life.
    Fortunately, my dad has written out very explicit directives, and given each of us a copy of them. I don’t have his DPOA, but neither does the computer bitch. The sister who does have it may not have medical expertise, but she’s got brains and heart, and that’s good enough for me. It’s a good thing I don’t have it, I’ve watched too many old people have horrible, lingering deaths because their kids couldn’t let them go. I wouldn’t push them, but I wouldn’t snatch them back, either.
    Did you see Boston Legal a couple of weeks ago? Candace Bergen’s character went to court to get a morphine drip for her father with Alzheimer’s because she said he was suffering. Well, he was. She got the court order, now I wish it worked that way in real life. Ah, for the arms of Morpheus!

  7. rob – you were dealing with a good doctor. they are out there… and your late wife gave you a gift by taking care of that particular detail herself. as for my “responsibilities”, it seems odd that my Dad took comfort in having me drive, yet it scares my Mom. i’ve tried to console her – letting her know that i’ll let her hang on a very long time because she’s made it clear that is her wish… she just doesn’t trust me. sad.

    annie – i will not lay this on my children, or anyone else for that matter. it is hard. and Mom thinks she’s sharing the load by making it a family decision, but remember, i’m dealing with the Queen of Denial, S, who refuses to believe anyone ever dies… (sigh). glad you enjoyed the humor – it’s my baseline method of coping with stress. beats robbing banks…

    kyknoord – it’s a function of quality. i suppose if i got a good photographer and staged the shots well…

    nm – we ran into some odd guidance. Dad was at a catholic hospital, and while church doctrine supports “palliative” care, there is no such thing as “assisted suicide”. sometimes these things cross over – and the staff varied in the degree of palliative care support provided…

    silverstar – your Dad has given a gift, that’s for sure. and brains and heart are all that’s required to make a rational decision, so you should be able to get through it when the time comes. didn’t see the Boston Legal – but i agree that real life doesn’t easily resolve in 59 minute episodes!

  8. dolce – Mom was delighted when i told her that DQ and S would be coming with me to check out some skilled nursing facilites for her cardiac rehab. i think she was afraid of the Charles Manson Family Care Center or some such thing… my preference would be to ship her to The Gimcrack, but airfare would be a bitch…

  9. Have you and your sibs and mother ever had any DNA tests done? I can’t for the life of me see how you could be related to any of them. Dad, yes. The rest of them, not so much.
    Also – really love the tag, “non-consensual organ donor.” Hah hah.
    You rock, as usual.

  10. bc – oh, i’m one of them all right. there is no doubt that this hard-drinking, wild-assed party girl has a healthy dose of redneck woman in her – very much dual citizenship in both camps. at some point perhaps i’ll have to share a few more stories…

    dolce – we’d have to get a leather corset for the “Cough Bear”…

  11. Pingback: End games, revisited… « Trailer Park Refugee

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