Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Choices at the End of Life

Something is not right with my father's health.  He has been sick for a month, a chest x-ray showed an unexplained shadow and was sent off to an expert.  The report is a possible aneurysm, something that would normally result in heading to the nearest emergency room for further tests.  His response was, schedule the CT scan for next week, it really does not matter because at 89 and not in good health to start with, he says no surgery.  He fully understands that if it is an aneurysm, and it starts to leak, he will be dead in a few minutes.  His younger sister died in surgery for a brain aneurism 20 years ago this spring.  He also understands the kind of surgery it would be, open the chest, cut the ribs, spread them open, heart lung bypass machine, replace the plumbing.  The surgery is brutal, the recovery long and painful.  The risk of oxygen deprivation aggravating changes in memory and cognition very real.  His choice is to know that the diagnosis is. He says he would like to know, but, more to learn if it is a false warning, than if it is a real risk.  The test outcomes are unlikely to change his choice.

I understand and support his choice.  At his age and health, every day is a treat, a bonus.  If he were the type to let his guard down, splurge and party a little, now would be the time to do it.  I wonder what he has always wanted to do, and could never convince himself to do?  Now is the time.


  1. I think your father has chosen the right path. My mother died of the same thing, which was almost instantaneous and a shock for the family but so much better than spending years bedridden before fading away horribly, which is how her sister died.
    Having elderly parents is hard sometimes, feeling so glad they are still with us but seeing them decline and dreading how the end will come.
    You're right, now is the time for him to party. My father is currently recovering from shingles, desperate to get better as fast as possible so he can go back to spending time with his lady friend. He's 87 and she's 79.

  2. Anonymous3/02/2016

    What a very worrying time for you. Of little consequence I know but I send a hug from London.

  3. I am sorry to hear your father is ill, but I agree with his choice. sometimes prolonging "life" by artificial means is NOT the answer.

  4. How about taking some time off to go help his realize that "always want to do but" dream?

  5. He needs to be in charge of his destiny
    So do we all

  6. good luck; this is never easy.