A doctor discovers an important question patients should be asked
So often the goal is to keep patients alive at all costs when it should be to make them comfortable and abide by their wishes in the best way possible. When my Mom had to decide on whether to pursue dialysis that would have given her MAYBE a couple of extra months given the organ failure already going on, we faced the same situation. She had been in and out of the hospital and emergency rooms the year before so much that phone calls from my sister were always answered with an expectation that Mom was in the hospital again. But our mother was an RN for many, many years, and she knew better than any of us what her options were and what they could do.
When they asked her about dialysis, she decided no, she wanted to go home and be comfortable with what time she had left instead of miserable during the extra couple of months it would give her. Me and my sister were both up and down on it – we wanted her to get it to have her as long as we could, but then we knew deep down she was right. I had a conversation with her and I’m ashamed to say I tried to convince her to get the dialysis. it was selfish of me, but she understood. Her answer was simple and poignant, “Matthew, I’m tired. It’s time. It’s okay.” I will never forget those words or the sound of her saying them. It was actually part of her final lesson in life to me, and I won’t go into that here.
And that was what was important – what was okay with her and her peace with it. The doctor in this story did exactly the right thing, and I wish more would.