Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on End of Life Issues

Thank you all for your virtual hugs and understanding nods about my mother’s plight. I wonder how many of you are thinking, "Why did she not just have a signed DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order available for any medical personnel called in an emergency?"
Very simply—Mom is not the least bit interested in dying. She’s old, she’s ill…her body is worn out and failing. But Mom isn’t ready to go. And I don’t think she ever will be. Any more than I suspect I will be, when my time comes. The specter of the unknown is just too overwhelming.
A while back, some bloggers did an exercise expounding upon the concept that "Anything I’ve ever let go of in my life had claw marks on it," or something like that. That is my mother, in spades. Her emotional attachments to places and things are more of Super Glue than of Velcro. She never made a change in her life that didn’t leave a psychological crater the size of the Sea of Tranquility. She is not remotely ready to consider the idea of the most profound and final change she will face on this earthly plain. Not long ago, when my sister approached her with the idea of signing a DNR, Mom, in her uniquely mom-like way, deftly changed the subject. Immediately.
Of course, like it or not, at some point she will have to go anyway. Western science seems to be on Mom’s side, standing ready to prolong her life to the nth degree. But Someone, be it God, the Great Spirit, the Almighty, or the Universe, as I’ve taken to calling It, understood my mother’s issues. On the day when she just…slowed to a stop, the Universe had said, "This is the transition appropriate for this soul." And stupid, bumbling human hands snatched it away.
Now…who knows what’s going to happen? She has her good days, and her bad days. At her best, it looks like she might just get sprung from the warehouse of human suffering she is in; maybe even be able to go back to her Assisted Living apartment…or at least somewhere a little more like home. At worst, it looks like the dreaded call from the nursing home staff, "Elsie didn’t wake up this morning," could come tomorrow. Actually, maybe that wouldn’t be the worst. The worst would be for her to linger in that awful place, between life and death, for weeks or months.
And it pisses me off to know this isn’t what the Universe had in mind for her. But arrogantly stupid western medicine had to interfere.


  1. Lisa -- I'll be completely honest.  I didn't pose the DNR question -- because I KNOW that each person has to make their own choice.  Some humans have the capacity to embrace the end of life, but I think more don't than do.  I believe the choice of or of not having a DNR is far more complicated than we speak about.

    The Universe (or God as I like to say ;) chose the nicest possible way for your mom to go and science (or the gods-to-be) took the opportunity to proove their worth.  

    I feel your pain.  I'm here to listen.  {{{hugs}}}

  2. I feel tremendous remorse when I think it would be for the best if my Dad just passes....but once again, I agree with everything you have said. When the body shuts down, the soul is ready to be released.

  3. DNR's are highly personal decisions, of course...and I know there are plenty of people who can't bear the thought of their own demise, but modern medicine doesn't do us any favors in this regard.  

    Please know I'm thinking of you.


  4. How about asking her to sign a medical directive? that will give the power to someone else to make the choice is she is unable to.

  5. This is something I deal with on a daily basis, I'm 44 years old, have to grown kids out of the house and 2 teenagers still at home and I am a no longer curable breast cancer patient, have been for over a year. Most days I vow to fight till the very end, because my job as Mom isn't finished, or because the loss my DH will feel hurts me to the heart and then I have days I wonder how long I can last having more bad days then good. Never thought about any of this when I was it's a couple of times a week. As far as a DNR for me, I dont want the plug pulled over a simple or not so simple heart attack, only if my cancer becomes painful, I'm on my 7th type of chemo and nothing is working,, but I am grateful for every breath every day and every moment spent with a loved one. As long as life isn't ready to give up on me, I'm not ready to give up on life. I have a 89 year old gramma who has been widowed since she was 34..she wants to go, she says she needs to go but God isn't listening to her...shes not living the life she wants to anymore, so I told her if I'm called before she is I'll stop by and pick her up...she said I better! lol lol lol