I grew up with a father who was a teacher and very obsessed with correct grammar. He said to me last week, “Can you change your blog’s title? It is incorrect. A journey cannot have insight; only a person can.”
I won’t go into my response to him. I have been impatient with my father and often I find myself annoyed with his critical nature!
However, I want to write about how I see myself and what purpose there is for me to share so much on my blog.
At this time in my life, I have the extraordinary challenge of dealing with my mother in a crisis situation. I have dealt with many crises before in my life, so this has actually been very familiar for me.
I am not being “courageous” to prove anything to anyone.
However, I see my writing as a way to share what it means to be human.
I want other people to know it is okay to follow their intuition!
From some of the messages I’ve received, there has been hindsight that extending a person’s life has not worked out so well in many cases.
For anyone that is new to reading my blog, I reconnected with Sam who is a doctor. The story about that can be told on the following link: #195 I REMEMBER THE FUN
Sam has been extremely “thought provoking” for me. Only a few weeks ago, he and I were corresponding about grief. It was very helpful for me to discover how much insight I had about the grief process, which I termed “an amputation of my soul.”
When I was writing on a prior post about why I opted for my mom not to have surgery, it was actually Sam that I was writing to. Initially, I didn’t feel the need to share his messages – only my response.
At this time, I am going to share his most recent message to me. I’m doing this because I want to give insight into the challenge I am facing every moment of my day!
Every single, medical professional I have come across in my daily interactions with my mother is in total agreement with Sam.
It is not easy to hear comments and encounter attitudes that are 100% against my decision for my mother not to have hip surgery.
I realize that I have an extraordinary ability to articulate my feelings.
That is why I’ve decided that I want to accept the challenge of defending my position.
I feel sad for anyone that is pressured to make decisions and cannot articulate their feelings!
On Jan 6, 2011, Sam wrote:
I actually ran into your mom’s orthopedic surgeon (which almost never happens) and discussed your Mom a bit…hope you don’t mind!
He confirmed for me that there is a definite fracture which he felt could be fixed and stabilized in a 30 minute operation…he does this all the time…hip fractures are unfortunately, too common in our older patients. He did not think that your Mom had medical issues that would make the surgery too dangerous. I asked him if he had ever had similar patients refuse to have a hip fracture repaired (your question). He told me that he had seen it once in seven years of practice, and that the patient had died a few weeks later (but don’t know other details).
I would agree that your decision is unusual, but not bizarre…you have explained your thinking well. What makes it unusual is that your Mom still has some quality in her life, but in deciding not to allow surgery, as you wrote, you “realize that your Mom is going to die sooner, and be immobile.” While you are right that you can’t simply apply pure logic to these situations, you can’t apply pure emotion either. If you don’t really care that “doctors think she could survive”, then you are applying pure emotion. I know that you have been burned badly a few times by medical statistics, but this is its own independent issue, and I wouldn’t let the past strongly influence your current thinking.
I think where we primarily differ, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that you believe that your Mom’s quality of life has deteriorated to the point that if something intervenes that could take her life…such as an untreated hip fracture…you’re OK with that and leaving it untreated. My view, on the other hand, is that she has enough quality (from what you’ve written and shown, and from what I observed) that it is still very reasonable to do basic medical procedures for her, such as insertion of a pacemaker or repair of her hip fracture. I’m not convinced that your current approach will result in less suffering or a better quality of life for her.
At any rate, I know that this is an agonizing decision for you, and I am sorry…Sam
While it might seem that my logic is “pure emotion” I think this issue comes down to whether there is an ability to control the destiny of death and dying.
As a doctor, your first concern is certainly to extend life.
ability or authority to manage or direct something
My experience with medical situations has certainly taught me about the fact that many things cannot be controlled. Another example for me about my own lack of control was this:
There was no way that I was able to prevent my mother from falling!
I had a premonition of it happening – I always knew she would eventually fall and break her hip.
Only a few weeks ago, I wrote about how she stood up while alone in the bathroom having a panic attack. I admonished her with, “Mom, you’re taking chances! If you fall and break your hip – do your realize how awful that would be?”
My decision is still about what would be the least amount of suffering for her.
Right now she is comfortable! I don’t think you realize that although I’m not a doctor, I’m certain she would die in the hospital with that surgery.
I don’t care what her surgeon tells me about her “chances.”
She does not want to physically go through surgery and hospitalization. That is enough for me!
Just because doctors tell me I’ll get “more time” with her by following their “experience,” I’ve decided not to rob her of her chance to leave this earth in a way that I deem more humane.
Therefore, although it seems inhumane to not “fix her” – I’m going to allow her to have quality time with her family with what time she has left.
Sam, she has irreversible dementia. With surgery, that situation will be exacerbated and her fear and panic will overwhelm her. She doesn’t have the will to go through that!
I love my mom too much to try to extend her life so she might have a few more “picture taking” moments!
Right now, I have those same moments and she is happy.
I appreciate that you are helping me to be certain about my decision. I realize you truly care about me from your message – and I thank you.
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