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Old 06-06-2009, 04:50 PM   #1
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How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

My elderly, critically ill mother was being treated in an ICU. The doctors kept telling my family that she could make a complete recovery. So we permitted them to perform treatments specifically prohibited by her directives. But after many days, we recognized that if she were to ever recover, her life would not be worth living. She'd be completely dependent, bedridden, blind, feeble and in pain. It would not be a life she would want to live.

Other than the hospital's physicians and staff, are there unbiased outside resources available to help families know what to do in such situations?

Thank you for your time.

Last edited by compassionate; 06-06-2009 at 09:05 PM.

 
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Old 06-06-2009, 10:27 PM   #2
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

First of all I am sorry you are going through this.. Sorry about your Mother.

This is a tough situation. There are usually Social Workers at the hospital that can help you. Did your Mother leave written instructions? Most people do not. Did she sign a do not resusitate.?

Your best bet is to talk to the Hospice people at the Hospital........they are for a dignified natural death......They can direct you the best way. They have people you can talk too.

Good luck and once again I am so sorry... Oleander

 
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:28 AM   #3
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

Thank you for kind reply.

My mother had advanced directives and listed procedures and treatments she specifically prohibited and also said to consider her pain and suffering. But the doctors kept telling us that she could make a complete recovery so we permitted them to perform the prohibited procedures, that is, until she started experiencing significant untreatable pain. The doctors had their agenda and we needed an unbiased 2nd opinion on what to do. That's why I ask if there are any outside resources for families to turn to in such situations.

Thank you.

 
Old 06-07-2009, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

I, too, am sorry for what you have been through.

I can only tell you what I think I would have done. I had my mother's medical power of attorney and knew what she wanted and didn't want. Though I never had to make a decision for her (she passed away unexpectedly), I did give a lot of thought to how I would go about making the decision so I would be prepared should the time ever come.

First of all, I would have talked with our attorney who drew up the POA. I would have determined from him if the current situation was covered by the POA and her directives to me and my sister. Next, I would have asked her doctors exactly what the potential - both ways - was for her condition. With 3 doctors in the family at the time, I am very aware that they often just look at the potential upside as they do not want to "fail" - and death is a failure to them. And then I would have seeked an outside medical opinion as to the potential for a decent recovery - 10%, 50%, 75%, whatever.

From all that input, I would have made a decision. I hope this helps. As far as I know, there are no boards or committees you can go to for direction. You simply have to ferret them out for yourself unfortunately.

 
Old 06-08-2009, 12:18 PM   #5
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Titchou View Post
I, too, am sorry for what you have been through.
Thank you. I appreciate your kind words and thoughtful answer.

 
Old 06-08-2009, 06:18 PM   #6
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

Were the doctors aware of what your mother's advance directives were when they recommended and performed the procedures? If they were, what they did was totally unethical, and maybe illegal. Patients' families are often very torn about what to do in these situations. For this reason, we have every reason to expect doctors to be that unbiased, professional opinion. Most families can't understand the complex medical issues with loved ones who are very ill. I, too, struggled with this during the last few months of my dad's life as his complications became more frequent and more severe. Luckily, up until the very end my dad was able to dictate what treatments he wanted and what he didn't.

I'm sorry that you are having to be thinking about this during this time of loss. Hospital staff should have provided better care for your mother and your family. Hospital's care should not just be focused on extending life, but should be focused on the total patient, including their wishes. Your family is in my thoughts. I think you did the absolute best you could have with the information you had.

 
Old 06-09-2009, 08:32 PM   #7
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toonces1 View Post
Were the doctors aware of what your mother's advance directives were when they recommended and performed the procedures? If they were, what they did was totally unethical, and maybe illegal.
Thank you for your supportive and thoughtful response.

Yes, the doctors were aware of the directives. Unfortunately, it seemed that they discounted them believing that the ends justify the means, that if they could get her well enough to leave the ICU (to be bedridden and feeble in a different part of the hospital or in a nursing home) it would be worth her enduring all of the pain and suffering required to get there.



not a subject for this website.

Last edited by Administrator; 09-22-2009 at 11:27 PM.

 
Old 06-09-2009, 09:00 PM   #8
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

Please take comfort knowing that your mother is at peace now. I'm so sorry that this all happened the way it did. Your mother would probably have been okay knowing that you did what you thought was best for her and that these things were done out of concern for her. However, I do agree that it is disturbing what happened, and you would probably have a strong case with which to file a formal complaint.

 
Old 06-10-2009, 08:50 AM   #9
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toonces1 View Post
Please take comfort knowing that your mother is at peace now. I'm so sorry that this all happened the way it did. Your mother would probably have been okay knowing that you did what you thought was best for her and that these things were done out of concern for her.
Thank you again very much for your thoughtful and encouraging reply.

 
Old 06-14-2009, 10:10 AM   #10
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Re: How and when to choose to die over a life not worth living?

I know it's very hard for me to remember I need to live.
Sometimes I cry all day, 'cause I rether be dead.
But, then I go see my counselor and she tells me everything I need to think about when I fell like I should die.
Now, I take my medicine for my leucemia everyday.
& I know I'll be alright!

 
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