4/04/2008

WHAT CONSTITUTES 'QUALITY OF LIFE'?

This has been a hellacious week for my family, and so I haven't had much energy for posting much of anything the last few days. My father-in-law's medical misadventures have multiplied. He's been in four different situations in the space of a week, variously:

  • blood sugar ran amuck on Friday, requiring trip to hospital to balance meds

  • early Saturday morning, attempted to urinate, missed the toilet, slipped on his own fluids, cracked his head, gave himself a mild concussion and (since he's on Coumadin) lost considerable blood---taken to Kaiser

  • spent the next two days getting his wits back in the hospital. Too weak after the ordeal to do much of anything without assistance. Independent living days appear to be pretty much over. Placed temporarily in a retirement facility to receive physical therapy in hopes of bringing back some of his strength

  • was removed from the facility less than two days later by his children, who felt guilty about the perception that the old man was being abandoned and who were even more distraught to learn the opinion of his physician, that he had, at outside, perhaps six months to live. Now at home with my sister-in-law, and appears to be happier and perhaps breathing a bit better, yet still incapable of doing much of anything on his own
The decision was made earlier to emphasize 'quality of life' in the face of a diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. So far, there's been no 'quality' that I can see, only fear, guilt, pain and anxiety. That we've had no new medical emergency now for 72 hours isn't a sign that things are getting better. It's just a lull in the drumbeat of decline, and it's becoming frustratingly obvious that my poor family as a whole is not facing up to the reality of the situation, making things worse for themselves: as far as I know, they are still considering reinstalling him in his 5-acre property out in the country and having his granddaughter move out there with him.

I'd raise more of a fuss about this, but for two things: first, he's not my father; second, who is to say what 'quality of life' is at this point? Maybe, for my family, 'quality' means whatever feels good at the moment. Who knows? They may be right. Me? I'm praying for a less anxious, more peaceful outcome.

2 comments:

Richard said...

As many of us deal with aging parents, I'm sure you situation will resonate with many. Add in the fact that he is the FIL certainly adds to the complexity.

Black Humor alert. My father had given up drinking approximately the time he retired. My brother and I teased him near the end that for "quality of life" we'd have a bottle of brandy in the room and try to run a steady 0.05%.

He did not agree.

Eamon Knight said...

My sympathies. Having spent 2000-2006 going through this sort of thing, I think dealing with one's parents final decline is one of the hardest jobs most of us will ever have to do.