Friday, May 18, 2012
The Wrong Turn/DNR
Mom, You Will Be Gone 14 Years Tomorrow At 2:20am...I Miss You So Very Much
The Wrong Turn
~ Bring out the candles on the cake,
the fanfare and confetti,
bright balloons that bob through
strong and nauseous, never dying.
In the strength of sense making,
Subtle pulsations, motion-sick swills,
contaminate the murky fusing,
~ I bring flowers for the living,
long breathy lyrics to fill the stillness,
a smile painted in place.
All around me faces from faded photographs,
filmy eyes frosted, cold.
Credulously the blister on my heel
becomes delicate pleasure,
proof that I can feel.
The icy ping hits me like a hailstorm.
I begin to cry,
"Where are you Mom,
I know you're in there"
Mom please tell me
you only took a wrong turn
in this your last journey.
~ Some one please stop this
May 19th, 1998
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order sits on the table in front of me.The ink pen beside it almost looks like it says Not Erasable on it. The decision has to be made (even though it was agreed upon months before this, in depth with the patient herself). But then a week ago she stated in her slurred speech that she needed time to think about it again. I wondered, did she have time? In this case we were told by the doctor, “if you need more time, a Full Code Order (Take any measures to help one live no matter what) will be in effect until a firm decision is made and the papers signed." I agreed, after all this was my Mother here, although she was frail and drawn from months of suffering and pain caused by a third stroke in a year and a half, but she was still so mentally alert and bright in mind. The strokes had taken her body, but her mind was as clear as ever ( what a Curse). She was being fed liquid nourishment through a tube surgically implanted in her stomach. The intravenous fluids pumping into her through what seemed to be a thousand tubes and needles. Her lips and mouth parched and dry from having nothing by mouth for over 5 months although I moistened her mouth several times a day. She would cry out to me, the nurses, and anyone else to please let her have a sip of water. But we knew, if we did she could choke to death (maybe she did too as I look back now).Now I wonder if that would have been so wrong. At least she would die knowing how it felt to swallow again, and feel the cool water on her lips. No I told myself, you cannot play God. But I had prayed for so long for her just to be able to eat one more time, even if it was just strained baby food. Again I wrestled with my emotions. She was going to die anyway, why not with a little happiness of some kind. My thoughts were again interrupted by a nurse telling me she had to change my Mother's diaper. I called it a pad to try and relieve her humiliation, and restore some kind of dignity for her. But even that was to no avail. I could see the shame and embarrassment in her tired, sad, dimming eyes. Outside the door I could hear her cry and moan in pain from a back injury years before, as they turned and rolled her to clean her up and treat the bed sores they tried so valiantly to prevent. I thought to myself, "When I go back in I will give her a drop of water off of the swab sponge". But again I felt fear creep up inside my whole being. I could take the chance and maybe it would be okay. Or, maybe I would kill her by her choking on the cool liquid. My mind told me to go ahead. My heart ached as once more my mind turned to logic. Do I have this right? It's what she wants. She could not speak by now. Only the pleading in her dimming oil spot eyes, which were once a beautiful Hazel. Dear God, what was she asking of me? Only for a taste of water? Or was it an end to it all she was asking for? Okay I told myself, there is absolutely no quality to her life now as she lies here day in, day out. She was totally dependent on others for her very existence, and she was so fiercely independent all of her life. And, that's all it was, was existing, not living, never seeing daylight or nightfall, looking at the same ceiling, every minute of every day. Literally the same ceiling, as she could not turn her head at all now. So, why not? Once more my thoughts were interrupted by nurses coming to suction fluid from her lungs again. Again, I reminded myself, when God was ready for her, He would take her, it wasn't up to me. I felt so ashamed for thinking about it. It was only 3 days later, her temperature shot up to 106.2. She was gasping for air. They put an oxygen mask on her. I watched as she struggled to get a hand up to her face to remove the mask, not once, not twice, but so many times over and over again. Finally the doctor was kind enough to order nasal oxygen only. Thank God, no mask. Was this an answer to one of my prayers? Then her blood pressure dropped to an almost fatal level, but still she continued to fight for every breath and kept on the battle. She was getting cyanotic now, her feet blue up to her chest. Her skin was like ice, even with the fever. The gasping grew more intense, and I saw every muscle in her body in knots. This was it, I had to remove the oxygen, and she was suffocating anyway. I could make it quicker for her. A nurse came in, she told me it was only a matter of time now, at best a few hours if even that. The word 'hours' might as well have been 'eternity' to me at that moment. I told the nurse to leave the room. She said she could not allow me to do this, but yes, she would leave us. Finally she told me the Do Not Resesutate was in effect. That didn't help the way I saw my Mother as I stood there beside her. Her suffering, fighting, gasping, and losing her battle slowly. The nurse then left us. Now was my chance. I told my Mother I loved her so much, I kissed her twisted, distorted face and reached for the oxygen tank. It was in my hand, I held her hand in one of mine and her life in the other. Ok, I was ready now. Dear God, help me I am ready, are you? Is she? I fell to my knees, and asked for the strength to help her. I raised my head and through my tears I thought, God knows every gasp of air she is fighting for, it's not your place. Again I had decided I could not play God, no matter how bad I hurt inside and no matter how hard she had to fight. It was up to her and God now. I turned away to hide the tears, started to walk out of that room for a while, and as I looked back, I said what I knew would be my final goodbye to my Mother. 14 hours later she passed away into the arms of God finally. Could I have lived with myself if I had helped end her life? I will never be able to answer that question, only agonize over if I had done the right thing or not.
Cecilia Margaret Bates
February 3rd,1921--May 19th,1998
Rest In Peace Mom, and remember, I will never forget.
I Love You
Your Loving Daughter