Tuesday, December 10, 2013

no goodbye for Dad

One of the hardest things about my job is watching families deal with elderly Mom or Dad. Dad is, lets say, in his 80's.  He is in bad shape for various reasons.  He isn't going to get better.  In fact, he is going to get worse.  He is worse today.

Here's the thing: he's full go.  He is so fragile that if CPR was performed, several of his ribs would break.  He would never get off the vent. In other words, its time to just keep him comfortable and enjoy the time that has left.

Of course thats not going to happen. Family is not ready to let Dad go.  Daughter is crying during Dads current visit.  Everybody else is tearful.

Dad says he feels fine.  He sits on the ER cart getting treatment that anyone would find uncomfortable.  It has become a habit for him to be brave for the family. He doesn't want the kids or his wife to suffer.  When the doctors have asked him about resuscitation he went along with being a full go.

So Dad will keep coming in, spending repeated visits in ICU.  Family will keep hoping that somehow he will get better.  He won't.  This will go on until one time he arrests. We can't revive him. Family is devastated.

They didn't get a chance to say goodbye. To tell him what a great Dad he was.


Anonymous said...

Yup, I see it over and over. I guess our culture is one where death is seen as abnormal. I have seen the 'look' in Dad's eyes when the family is not around, exhaustion, distant, ready to leave look. Families demand from us what we cannot deliver. Sometimes I feel like I am the convenient whipping boy that serves to sooth some deep guilt in the family members heart.

Crusty ER TECH said...

This is the exact reason I got my Dad to agree to go into hospice once he was diagnosed with terminal colon CA. I would never want my parents to go through the hell families of our patients go through in a very public ER.

It's horrible.

Why let a much beloved parent die slowly and in pain when you can get a chance to have them in a comfortable environment at home? Choosing to make someone you love suffer because of fear of death is beyond me.

Not trying to be harsh but I feel there is a better way via hospice care for terminal patients.