Friday, February 20, 2009

Playing God

DNR. Do Not Resuscitate.

That's what we had on file for my mother. And when I got the phone call at 2 AM that her breathing was getting more labored, the nurse wanted to confirm that my mother wasn't to be placed on a ventilator. TJ (the nurse) said she discussed the ventilator option with my mother and Mom said "no", so I told TJ she had her answer.

At 5:30AM they placed Mom on 100% oxygen and TJ told me I could come in even though visiting hours are 11AM to 8PM. The respiratory therapist changed masks to one that had a rubber seal that was much tighter and didn't allow Mom to be understood easily as well as looking very uncomfortable, so when the doctor came in and pushed for placing Mom on a ventilator for a couple of days to allow her to get some rest from her struggles to breathe, my brother and I once again asked her if she wanted the ventilator. No, no, no. So I asked her what she DID want, and she said she wanted to go home.

"Okay," I said, "if you want to go home, how about allowing the doctor to put you back on the ventilator so you can breathe more easily, and then they can give you a sufficient amount of pain medicine so your "stomach" can heal" (they were limiting her pain meds due to her shallow breathing and low blood pressure). "Then," I said, "I can take you home and feed you some bacon and eggs". That's the only thing she has been asking for since she arrived. This time she agreed and we changed the code and now she looks horribly uncomfortable with the tube down her throat and my brother cried when he saw her and how in the h*ll do you get over the guilt of coercing your mother to do something she didn't want to do?

I came home and got sick.


SkippyMom said...

Venilators are horrible, I agree. For the loved ones that have to see it, and for the person who has it in.

But I don't see this as coercion Linda, as much as a compromise? She wants to come home, but has to feel better to do so, hence she has to give her body a rest by using a ventilator.

I don't see the ventilator as a DNR measure as much as a preventive measure. Here's why - and although everyone situation is different - this might make you feel better because it is similar to yours.

Six years ago [almost 7] my Mom was admitted with breathing problems [i.e. couldn't breath] b/c of the COPD & emphesyma. They put her in a light coma and ventilated her. It was awful, seeing her that way and when she woke up and was still on the machine? Oh boy she was a treat ;) to deal with. My point is tho' - My mom is STILL alive now all these years later. I find it amazing, but without the venilator [which we had no choice in] she would've suffocated to death.

So, I say that this is a pretty fantastic idea on your part to get her to use the venilator to assist her body in healing the other problems and then she can get home for her bacon/eggs. My mom always wanted to get home too.

[sorry this was so long] My best to you. You are doing a great job. Remember to take care of yourself and your hubby, 'kay? You need it.


Anonymous said...

Oh Linda I am so very sorry to hear this. What a dreadfully hard time for your mom, you and your family. Please be gentle with yourself. The decisions you are facing are just so tough. Ventilators are very intimidating machines but the truth is, with the ventilator doing the work of breathing, your mom's body can now rest and hopefully heal. Proper sedation should be part of the regime. Many remember very little of the experience afterwards. Please know you and your mom are in my thoughts and prayers.

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