Tuesday, February 12, 2008

His Choice

Very rarely do I speak of anyone other than others; today however is my day, about my life, really about my fathers life.

Recently I have had to accept a decision which I probably could have swayed if I followed my selfish heart. This decision was hard to accept, I think maybe the hardest in my life, but I stress "my" life. As some of you may know, or have gotten the gist from other posts I've written, my father is ill. Ill to the extent where he was deemed terminal many months ago.

For the longest time I've been aware of this, my siblings, their families, most of his friends also know of his situation yet he was bearing the disease quite well. For the past 3 maybe 6 weeks he has been slipping faster than anyone has expected, certainly his family.
His last hospital stay was the first time his "DNR" was posted for me to see, for all to see. I knew his wishes and was not really shocked by his request; I knew it had been in place for many years but to actually see it hanging on his door was difficult to say the least.

He remained in the hospital for nine days and underwent several batteries of tests, some results were hopeful while others showed a different picture, a truer picture; he is slowly dieing before my eyes and there is nothing that I can do to stop it. Dad has good days and bad days and so-so days and horrible days; perhaps days is the incorrect description since these days continuously vary by the hour. My biggest concern at this point is that he will feel no pain.

He was at a strange stage the past week although one I understood entirely. I would call it hopelessly hopeful. He knows he's terminal, but........he also is still off and on grabbing at straws, not always, but definitely during his good hours. During the last hospital stay he was basically "told" by a physician that a certain procedure was their next line of defense; it was going to be performed. My father is of the generation who trust in doctors implicitly and rarely asks questions, he follows their orders to the letter.

When he was discharged and I got him home it was evident that his hospital stay had done nothing for him yet I myself was still as hopeful of the upcoming procedure as was he. My brother and sister in law arrived that day and spent the weekend with him caring for his every need; he loved seeing them and they were a tremendous help.

Once at home I did some research on the mentioned procedure and found what I thought I would. It is not a cure, which I expected, and as any other procedure or medication for that matter, there were possible adverse side affects. I was with him when he was told it was what they were going to do and none of this was mentioned to him other than possible nausea. I felt he deserved to know what I had read and also deserved to know that this was not something he had to do unless he wanted to. I was very hesitant about telling him this because under all of it I was hoping he'd still give it a shot.

The past few days have been filled with his agreement as well as disagreement of the procedure, usually depending on how he felt at the moment. Last night, I was told by a third party that he had made the final decision not to go through with it. Of course I verified this with dad and yes it is true, he has decided against any further treatment; he's tired, wants no more pain, no surgeries, he's "ready to go". Exactly what this means in respect to time I have no clue, I don't think anyone can tell us that. As much as I understand and respect his choice I still want to ask him to try it but I can't, I won't; I'm the selfish one, I want him to stay longer, but I'm not the one in pain, not the one who's been undergoing the stress and certainly not the one who should decide for him.

So...I have to accept his decision...that's hard.


paisley said...

despite its difficulty on the living,, what a kinder gentler way to go...

i know for myself i will be furious and ever so disappointed in their judgment if any one ever attempts to keep me alive when i have decided i am ready to go.....

Matty said...

I can feel your pain......my mom has the same sign above her bed at the long-term care facility.
I don't want to face that day..but I know I will.
I think the most difficult thing in life besides a child...is losing a parent. God bless.

MedStudentWife said...

Hugs and thoughts to you DS, and your Dad & family.

I hope your Dad doesn't have much pain.

Is the decision right ? Its his choice and I've seen too many cases where choice wasn't given a chance.

Keep to it !!!!

Agnes Mildew said...

I hope your father loses all his pain peacefully and with dignity. That's all you can hope and pray for DS.
And I hope you all find comfort in each other.

Anonymous said...

I wonder have you or your father asked about hospice? Hospice care can be initiated at home or in a hospital setting. We often do this in the ICU where I work for patients who have made a DNR decision. Although most patients who have chosen a DNR status receive liberal pain medications (moreso generally than patients who have not declared DNR and are in a declining state for fear of tipping things over, if you will) a hospice consultation can ensure that everyone is on the same page and they specialize in end of life care which can be most helpful since some practioners are not as at peace with death as others. Most respectfully, I wish you and your father peace.

Catherine said...

I am definitely thinking of you during this very difficult time. It is a very tough place to be watching your father go through all that he has gone through. Looking at the DNR status must feel surreal.

I am praying for your Dad, you and your family.