Thursday, February 28, 2013

On End of Life Issues

Just reading an article about a man's mother dying. The man was a health professional too but still it confused him. My mom was 89 years old, in the middle of that year, when she was struck by a massive left sided stroke. It left her unable to talk and to walk. Doctors prognosis was that she would not recover. I felt very alone in the situation. In 4 weeks mom died.

I called an ambulance for mom, I lived with her and heard something funny in her  bedroom. I heard it twice. The second time I went in and she had fallen off of her bed. I tried to speak to her but she wasn't able to. I tried to pick her up and get her back in the bed but that was impossible, too. Her bed was set up higher than most beds with an extra mattress. I called 911 and told them my mother had had a stroke. I recognized it from her inability to speak.

I called my brother but he didn't show up to be with me at the emergency room. He had to work. That's just the way it is.

This article was all about end of life care. I signed a do not resuscitate form when my mom was through with "therapy." I had thought therapy would be so helpful but it wasn't. I found it hard to get there in the morning and apparently the rest of the family or friends couldn't be there either. The most serious thing mom ever said to me about the end of her life was she didn't want to be put in a nursing home. After her two weeks in a stroke therapy hospital her Medicare would not pay for any more treatment. If I had known better I would have taken her home, but I feared the whole burden would be on me to take care of her so when it was suggested that she be taken to a nursing facility for more therapy, I say it now with more trepidation than I used to, I went for it. It wasn't long after my mom was there that she passed away. There were some people there who were very gentle and knew what was happening. When I was asked to stay with her over night after I signed the DNR they had turned off the heat because mom was running a fever. It was so cold and I was so uncomfortable in the hospital. I guess I deserved having to stay in that hospital to remind me of what staying in a hospital is like. It sucks! And so to this day I wish I had gotten mom out of the hospital but I was just too weak inside. I had wondered if the hospital had counseling for family members of patients they did not believe would recover from serious afflictions and been met with really awesome surprise. They did not have any idea why such a person should need counseling. Why should such a person need comfort? Don't they have a church or something to console and love them? Don't they have a family? Don't they have friends? Yes, of course, why waste tax payer money on that? Of course, I resented that. I felt the same about home health care. I was told they would send health care to the home 3 days out of the week. Mom was in a diaper. Much to her regret, that was how it was. She would need to be turned over for the bed sores. I had diabetes myself and I was a single man at age 53, unemployed and uninvolved. I felt estranged from society trying desperately to follow a spiritual master, do the meditation, chant and read but then this. Where was the world? Was this all on me? I had the great achievement of an Associates Degree, had never been employed longer than 6 months and that was once when I was returning to school at 45 to study computer programming. I earned a Certificate in Business Data Processing as the community college called it. It was a one year certificate. I earned that in 2001. Now my mother was dying and I was staring at a computer screen to see if somehow it could help me. It didn't.

I found some comfort in the article I was reading. It is a great shock when a loved one is stricken by some terrible, massive something. I appreciate the author's offering it to us.

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