A Life or Death Decision

Her father is sick, again—but this time she’s asked to choose.

The will of the father; the wishes of the daughter.

His body is spent; and intuitively, he knows it. Still he clings to life by one thin thread of hope.

She’s become the designated caregiver.  Emotionally exhausted, she has no energy left for family and friends.  Her career has suffered, and she wants her life back.

Suddenly, she has been charged with making a decision on his behalf:  to intervene or not to intervene, knowing full well that intervention will ultimately only prolong her father’s suffering.

It would be so easy to say: “No, don’t intubate; let’s end this folie a deux right now and get on with our lives.”

Yet for him, that is not the right thing to do.

As his daughter, she respects his will to live.

In this case, technology is a curse. If we didn’t have ET tubes and ventilators, life would take its natural course. We have created our own demons, and they constantly come back to taunt us: in this case, six additional months of ventilator dependence, dialysis and a feeding tube before death from heart failure.

What a pity this whole scenario could not have been discussed with the father during one of his more lucid moments! Perhaps then he could have made a more rational decision.

But then, death is never rational, is it?

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3 comments on “A Life or Death Decision

  1. ~ t says:

    What’s the point if there’s no quality of life? Easy to say of course, when one is in good health. Few readily choose death, as life is all we know … and even that, not so much at times. The best anyone can hope at the end, is that it comes quickly and painlessly …usually not an option when the Reaper has your number.

  2. Kawika says:

    Yeah. I thought this was a strange piece in the Times. Did they place it to make us angry? This kind of hopeless activity probably consumes resources and monies that could go to care of children and young people who now often go without.

  3. ~ t says:

    “Yet for him, that is not the right thing to do.
    As his daughter, she respects his will to live.”

    This is the real crux of the matter; each has as much right to live, regardless of place in life. Nearing the end of my life, I’ve no doubt my will to live will remain strong (minus any great suffering, of course).
    My PoA instructions do include DNR directives though.

    “Do not go gentle into that long goodnight. Rage, Rage
    against the dying of the light”. (Dylan Thomas)

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