Last night this question wrestled with me:

Last night this question wrestled with me: how do we care for people, do we really need so much nursing home, are we trying to hold back the sea with our hands? In different words, when do we let go, when are we struggling beyond where the heart wants to go, the soul needs to go?

Quality of life is too surface: what is the mystery? There is a mystery of love, yes?, which pulls us to hang on for a long time. But what is the cost to the loved one and to us, in suffering and seeing suffering. Is that pill necessary, the stay in long-term care really a stay in long-term storage? He’s 80, in the nursing home, barely conscious, sleeps with IVs and respirator, she’s 70, waits by his bedside for the minutes a day he wakes. Sure, she could not take care of him this same way at home. Not as long. Where is the life? Where is the life that can be brought to this family? Two children and their spouses come to visit, tease Dad, get a smile. The smile says much. When Dad is in the nursing home, the whole family is in there too. She is not ready to let him go. If she brought him home, off the IVs and the respirator, he might not last but a few days. Where is the life? How can they know? How can anyone know?

Our health care has come to the point that rarely is the rain on one side of the street and not the other. The mist comes in softly, then the light rain, when did the storm come? And so we get used to the wet and stormy. There are no clearcut decision points. If there ever were. When Great Grandpa got kicked in the head by the mule, there was little to do but keep him comfortable for a few days.

Now there are possibilities. But which possibilities ought we chase? After all, There are no 2,000-year-old people. When to let go? Are our possibilities bringing on an elongation not of life but of suffering?

So here is a mystery, a secret we do not want to bring to light of day.

Tomorrow, I may not agree with what I have written today.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »

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