I’m emailing. And phone calling. A lot. Here’s this afternoon’s emails. I put them in normal prose order, i.e., you don’t have to read them bottom to top, as you would if I’d lifted them directly from email. The woman corresponding with me is a 70-something cousin, I don’t know very well. I’d like to, though. This isn’t the first time she’s reached out to me very graciously.
Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 18:43:15 +0000
To: sharon; judy; linda; deane; stacey; trish
Subject: follow-up to previous email
Mom continues to refuse the feeding tube. She has talked with Mike and the doctor and appears to be competent, in the doctor’s judgment, to make that choice. She is fully aware that it will lead to her death. She says she does not want to go through any more medical procedures, does not believe she would get well. She talked with Mike about her life and her children, and she appears to be lucid.
The doctor says since she has made this decision, she will be placed under “palliative care,” and they will keep her as comfortable as possible. He said if she wants to try to eat, she can, since pneumonia won’t make a difference one way or the other. I suppose there’s a slim chance that she will somehow start swallowing again when they let her try to eat, but that’s not very likely.
It goes without saying, this is very difficult to hear.
Sent: Wed, 20 May 2009 23:29:50 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: RE: follow-up to previous email
I’m so sorry to hear of this latest set-back. This has to be heart breaking & frustrating and hard to accept for you children. I do understand your feelings and hope I can help you to understand your Mom’s. I’m not as old as your Mom but I am a sr. citizen. Mother & grand-mother. I love & value life & want to be here for my family but only if I can take care of myself & be independent. I don’t want to be a burden on my family or society. There are some things worse than death & sometimes what we have to go through is one of them. Your Mom has endured numerous illnesses, surgeries, etc. so we know she is a fighter. But when you get knocked down too many times, you get tired of fighting, & it’s harder to get back up again. I’m sure she feels like she has lived a long & full life but old age is hard, & she won’t be able to take care of herself. I have discussed this with my sister, Margaret, & cousins: Rena, Willa, Kaye, & Joan. We are all in our 70’s & 80’s. We all agree that we understand & respect what & why your Mom is making the decisions she is. I’m grateful that she is lucid & can make this difficult decision for herself. She is NOT MAKING A DECISION TO DIE. She’s just deciding not to put herself through more medical & painful procedures, to prolong her suffering that may extend her life but not an acceptable quality of life. I admire her bravery & feel that I would make the same decision if I were in her situation. I think she’s leaving it in God’s hands & not the Dr’s. Once again, I’m giving unasked for advice & hope its received as a comfort because that is my intention. Our whole family will be praying for all of you as you face the difficult days ahead.
Please share this with your Brothers, if you think it might help.
From : susie
Subject : RE: follow-up to previous email
To : Deane
Wed, May 20, 2009 08:12 PM
Deane, thank you again. I do appreciate what you say here. I spent about 45 minutes on the phone this evening with my pastor, and she says the same thing. When I saw that you wrote “she is NOT MAKING A DECISION TO DIE,” I had to go back and look at my email to you, to see if I had used that expression. I didn’t, but you were absolutely right, that is the thing that has been troubling me. I needed to sit with it, and pray with it, and cry with it, for a few hours. I won’t say it’s easy to accept, but I do accept it, and I am very thankful that she is still clear enough to make the decision, and not leave it on one of her children to make it. I will pass on what you’ve said to my brothers.
Now, having said all that, you won’t believe what happened after all the papers were signed, refusing the feeding tube, and the palliative care people came in: SHE ATE HER DINNER. She is full of surprises, my Mom. Don’t let it be said that anyone has her figured out. I was laughing on the phone as Mike told me about it. He fed her the pureed applesauce, sloppy joes, and something else. She choked once, and they suctioned her, but he said she ate enough for an actual small meal. I do not know what God has in mind here. It’s a rollercoaster. I don’t dare get my hopes up that this will be a turning point; but I am thankful that she had the pleasure of tasting another meal, and her son had the honor of feeding it to her. I am grateful for your friendship, and for getting to know one another better, through this crisis.