I have had many opportunities to listen to this broadcast from your archives but, for reasons that I was afraid to admit to myself, I never did. I am so glad that you reaired this interview this week because it touched me very deeply.
One of the topics that did not come up in the edited interview is decisions that come at the end of life about appropriate care. My mother had presented to me months before her death with her advanced directive about the type of sustaining care that she wished for at the end of her life. She told me that I was named as the person who had medical power of attorney over those decisions. At the time I read the document: but I did not discuss it with her other than acknowledging that I undestood the responsibility I was given.
When my mother wound up in the hospital on a ventilator and heavily sedated a few months later, I was faced with a personal crisis. She could not communicate and I desperately needed from her to know if this was what the document meant! Were these the measures described in abstract legalistic terms in that document that you were talking about? What is it that you would want me to do at this juncture?
As I agonized over what instructions to give to her care givers, the decision was, at least partially, taken from me. Her doctor had said that the outlook was not good, but she also told me that she would let me know when it was time to withdraw all but palliative care. In the end, I was not left to make the decision alone. My three siblings were all there and in agreement that it was time.
Still, my advice, to those faced with the prospect of handling end-of-life decisions for a parent, is to discuss it at length with your parent no matter how uncomfortable it may feel and no matter how distant you perceive that decision to be.
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