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“.