I ended yesterday with a text from my mum asking what I thought Nan’s living will would be. Nan has delegated this to the family. And after what sounds like a chest infection, which became sepsis which became a trip in an ambulance, which became a drip on antibiotics. The hospital wanted to understand what they should do if things got any worse.
Although Nan is poorly, I didn’t feel we were far enough into her illnesses to begin thinking about having a do not resuscitate on her medical file. I don’t think she is terminal yet and her priority in life is seeing her family.
I thought that if other members of our family were at risk of increased disability we wouldn’t necessarily withdraw life support or resuscitation.
But she is moving towards the end. And it may be a number of years before she gets there. And at some point this decision will need to be made.
All clinical pathways eventually lead to pain management, the withdrawal of food and water. And a DNR.
I’ve never believed someone would want to suffer. And m, I don’t think I’d want that suffering to be dragged out unless I wanted it to.
When people see Nan they see an elderly person who refuses to leave their home. They see someone who struggles with their mind, behaviours, bowels and getting about.
But inspire of all this; she is capable of love. She is capable of feeling. She is capable to continue mourning her husband. To smile at her great grandchildren. To let people know that she’s not impressed. To eat, to protest, to not eat, to let others know she is in discomfort.
And when you see her, as frail and unwell as she looks. You know she is still there.
So if I had to go back on last nights conversation; rather than think about the medical intervention and quality of life I would ask:
Is Nanny’s priority to feel or to move? Are emotions more important than physical ability? Will life for Nanny be about love or ability to do?
Because quality of life isn’t necessarily measured by how far you can walk; but by how much you can still love.