I wish I had known of this website years ago. My sister and I heard mom say millions of times through our lives when I can’t take care of myself I no longer want to be alive. We heard her say I do not want to be on life support or machines as well. Yes, we heard her say it and we believed it. We however never got it in writing or had her sign a healthcare proxy.
Elderly people can be fine one moment and ill the next which was what happened to mom. Valentines day 2012 she and I were making heart shaped sandwiches and chocolate lollipops as I was having a few of the neighbors up for a little celebration lunch. That day my 93 year old Mother enjoyed the pink ice cream soda and the company of the neighbors and it was truly a day of love.
To my shock the next morning she woke with a terrible cough which was so bad she could not breath. We rushed her to the ER. At first they wanted to send her home saying she had pneumonia but I would not allow it as she could not breath. To make a long story short, they admitted her and she just was getting worse and worse. To this day I honestly don’t know exactly what happened to my Mother but on February 23 (just nine days after our valentines celebration) she passed away.
She went through many stages before she closed her eyes. Right before they were going to do yet another test she insisted I take her to the restroom. I pleaded she let me get the nurse but she was getting so agitated that I took her. Well, while coming out of the restroom she had a heart attack in my arms. I screamed for help which came immediately and she was intubated.
Then the decisions began. My sister and I knew Mom would not want to live on a breathing tube, feeding tube and by then dialysis was necessary. Because I did not have an official health proxy two nurses and a doctor sat with my sister and I while we chatted with Mom. With a tube down her throat she could not speak but could hear us just fine. I looked into her trusting brown eyes and said, Mom, you know when we go to the doctor you let him speak with me and then when we get home I talk to you?. She nodded yes I said well you had a heart attack and I want you to be comfortable so you will be OK. She nodded yes. I said I have to make some decisions and I need you to trust me based on all the things I know you would want. She nodded yes. I said Mom, I believe you are getting very tired. I believe you miss Daddy. She nodded yes. The doctor then made it very easy for me at that point as my mom was very ill and said he had what he needed. My sister and I with tears running down our faces signed the paperwork. Moms medication except for pain stopped as did the dialysis. It was truly the hardest signature we ever had to do. While we received many reassurance from doctors, nurses and staff that if it were there loved ones they would be doing the same thing and we were doing the right thing it did not make it any easier. I so had wished all I had to have done was hand a paper with my mothers signature on it.
Please if you are reading this. Get the health care proxy while you can sit at the kitchen table over coffee. While we know we did the right thing I can still see my Mothers trusting big brown eyes looking up at me. My last words were I love you Mom and she tried to whisper I love you too back to me.
Have the conversation as soon as possible. I know I have to do the same thing with my own son.
I do not want to put these decisions on his shoulders. I would prefer to say I love you and sign my wishes now while I am well. That will leave us time to many years of conversations filled with wonderful memories.
That being said we do know we made the right decision. We love you Mom. Keep watching over us.