Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Do not resuscitate?

A long time ago we agreed, as a family, if anything serious happened to my father he should not be resuscitated. A difficult decision to make, and one guided by what we could gather from his wishes while he could still speak.

Today the reality of that decision came into focus. The nursing staff couldn't wake him this morning. By noon his doctor had discussed with my mother resuscitation or letting him go. We were told to go to the hospital. The A&E doctor reiterated the question.

He's been drifting in and out of consciousness ever since. Because he can't communicate or understand all that's said, it makes any diagnosis hard to determine. They think he's had a stroke. Only time and tests will tell.

Mum has changed her mind. When faced with the reality of losing him, she can't let him go. She wants to give him every chance. She wants to be able to visit him in the dementia unit for as long as possible. She's scared of never seeing him again.

I don't know how to feel. A conversation with one of his regular nurses has left me thinking that this is the beginning of the end.

The thought of letting him die if more could be done is horrible. The thought of keeping him alive with no quality of life, confined to a bed in a dementia ward, is horrible too. Whatever happens, my mother's decision will be respected. She is the one losing her husband. She is the one that needs to do this her way. I'm ok with that. I understand why she's done a U turn.

I don't want to see his quality of life, his ability to engage with people and the world ,diminish so far that he is just a body whose spirit has long gone.

I am in tears as I write this. It is Christmas and we're trying to make the most of what we have, but every day is coloured by his illness. He is trapped in a mind and body that betray him. There are sparks of him still there. Moments where he is, so very fleetingly, my Dad.

I am so very, very sad. He is the person I ran to, rescued me, I trusted, picked me up, made me feel safe and he is slipping from my grasp like water. Each week sees another small step towards darkness and grief. Another seizure, another fall, another word lost from his voice.

I will miss him. The next days, weeks and perhaps months will be hard. I'm not ready to lose him, but I know the journey we have taken over the last five or so years, is nearing its end.