End Of Life
All of this balderdash from opponents of so-called “Obamacare” health care reform about “Death Panels” that will come and put your grandparents to sleep like an injured Chihuahua makes me think about the patients I’ve had to counsel regarding end-of-life issues.
I have a wonderful patient who is still struggling, after many years, with her father. He is, like many men of his era who spent a fair amount of time in the military, the kind of guy who speaks little. He has outlived his wife, which is statistically unlikely, for she was very ill for a very long time. He is tired, just plain tired, of medical interventions. He had a hunk of colon taken out some years ago, and there was something somewhere between normal and cancer on it. Who knows when he tells his daughter. Her confusion is expressed to me through tears.
Most of the times I am involved in “should-we-pull-the-plug” type decisions, it is at the end of life and not the beginning.
A “DNR” or “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” order simply means that if someone has a heart or lungs that cannot work on their own, the decision is made NOT to use artificial heart or lung type machines to prolong life. I have seen people sign their own documents to this effect.
As a matter of fact, I saw a DNR order signed by my father when he was in a nursing home, basically bed-bound, and it was a correct decision.