Saturday, October 09, 2010

This may be morbid to some

Listening to a piece on web radio tweaked my thoughts. The sessions are about retirement, but the one on health care lapsed into "what would my parent want near the end" and then "what do I want".

I have written before how profoundly my father's death affected me. To the core. I knew that health care had run a muck- but to what extent?

A person HAS to die. One can do it or prolong it.

The elderly/very ill are especially vulnerable since others make decisions for them. They continue on- taking vast medication, being on machines or having surgeries - for their loved ones.

One of the last things that happens on the road to death is the refusal of food. The body is shutting down. It is a part of the process. Slowly life ebbs away. Unfortunately for my father, the Pope had a feeding tube inserted to continue his life. In turn the decision was made to do this for my father as well.
My father despised noise that was not beautiful. Here was the very thing that was making his end a living hell- a pump he did not want and a noise that would drown everything beautiful.

That brings me to what I desire. The older I get, the more interested I am in death without machines. Any machines. Death brings us to a higher place. Why would I want it extended with objects that were not present twenty years ago?

Open the window. Put the Hawaiian blanket on the bed. Put some of my favorite paintings on the wall. Leave if you must. But please, let me go in peace in a sealed hospital room.

OK- I have still have to make the Hawaiian blanket so I cannot go anytime before my sewing room is ready!


RAnn said...

Actually the Pope did not get a feeding tube. He was actively dying, so Church teachings allowed him to refuse it,and he did.

ancient one said...

Hard decisions.. my husband's sister had a massive stroke. She had a living will. One daughter thought nothing should be done. The other two decided she would have a feeding tube. She is still in the nursing home two months later. Still cannot talk, but understands what is said to her and can for the most part make us understand what she wants. She can sing Jesus loves me with us and never misses a word. This week when asked if she ever attends the church services at the nursing home she replied "Once in a while".. perfectly spoken. She now feeds herself and will soon have the feeding tube removed. ??

Difficult decisions, yes!!

Janette said...

Nope Ruth- he did get one in his nose

That one act changed my father's treatment because he was dying from the same thing. My mother and her Catholic doctor decided morally they had to do it since that is what the Vatican did. Unless the Vatican lied to the press and he really did reject the tube.
It is pretty clear in my mind since it was used against my argument that someone only needs to offer food and water three times a day- which is how it has been in the past.

I guess the difference between your sister in law is that my father had been actively dying for several months. The feeding tube was one more act to keep a man alive- whose body was moving the other direction.

Kimberly said...

My fil's sudden illness and death within the last month has really brought home that my dh and I have not really discussed or documented our desires. My in-laws did, so that was helpful. All he had at the end was some oxygen and pain medicine. He was able to sign himself into hospice. The oldest child (also his POA) wanted him to have chemo and fight. It was good he had everything in order.

Elena said...

Why didn't you consult a priest or the diocese for clarification if there was some confusion? It seems odd that your father's physician would think that the Pope getting a feeding tube was an infallible act.

Janette said...

Since my father's situation was so close to the time the Pope died- and also close to his declaration on feeding tubes to a comma patient- it is not surprising what my mother and the doctor made the decision they did. Also that my father died of the same thing the pope did makes for another hinge of the decision.
It is a strong example how modeling is something we have to be careful of. I am not sure a priest would have said anything different at that point of history. No one ever thought it was an infallible act. Don't most orthodox Catholics attempt to follow not only infallible statements- but also the acts of those who are in charge of the Church?
Since you know what it feels like to have a person decline...looking at the Church for information is not unrealistic.

Elena said...

I'm not saying it's unrealistic. I just think that it is unfortunate they took the course they did since it seems to have bothered you so much, especially if it was done under the banner of being the only "Catholic" course of action. It wasn't.

Janette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janette said...

Elena- I won't lecture you on what II think you should have done our your mother's death....