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It Didn’t Matter

By Rebecca
Posted on

I had the conversation with my family members.

they talked to my mother-in-law who stated she would not go against her children's wishes to have him kept on life support, even thought it was futile
My in-laws were the parents that I really never had. So when my father-in-law started to show signs of dementia, I stepped in to help. When his doctor talked to him about end of life issues, he stated that he wanted a Living Will. So I went to great measures to take care of this for him. Unfortunately, when the time came, NO ONE, not even the doctors caring for him paid any attention to it because his children wanted EVERYTHING DONE, including his being on a ventilator for 13 days. And his wife, my mother-in-law listened to them instead of me. And the fact is, that is who the doctors will listen to in Alabama – not the patient’s wishes but the families’. When I brought it up to the doctors, they talked to my mother-in-law who stated she would not go against her children’s wishes to have him kept on life support, even thought it was futile. The eldest daughter, who is a nurse, kept spouting off stories of people who were in comas for years and then woke up with a perfectly good mind. That would never be the case for my father-in-law because he’d had dementia for over 3 years and couldn’t even tell you what day it was. Her husband, who is a music minister, looked me in the eye and said, “Who are you to say he’ll have no life?” I asked him, “Where have you been? 150 miles away–you haven’t been here to see what’s been going on!!!” I was literally exiled from the family discussions because they all agreed that they wanted him on life support. But they wouldn’t be the ones taking care of him–his wife and I would be–like it had been for the previous 3 years. Finally, on the 12th day, my husband went to see his dad and saw a look in his eyes that said, “Help me!” He broke down and cried because he knew his dad didn’t want to be on life support. He finally talked his mother into removing the ventilator. His Dad actually lived 5 more days, but finally died. My relationship with my husband’s brother and sisters has never been the same. I continued to remain close to my mother-in-law until she died 3 years later. But the point is, it doesn’t matter what you want to the doctors. It matters what your family wants. The doctor you make a Living Will with won’t be the one in the ER or in the ICU caring for you. And they won’t care about it–only what the family wants. Because they are the ones who will sue the doctor and the hospital if they don’t get what they want. 3 months after my father-in-law passed away, my mother-in-law had to have open heart surgery. She wanted to make me her medical power of attorney but the eldest daughter made an unbelievable scene, once again spouting off stories of coma patients and that I wouldn’t act in their (the children’s) best interest. I called my sister-in-law and reminded her what happened with her father and that they wouldn’t listen to me–they’d listen to her, and her siblings. So she should just agree with what mother wanted and then, if that time came, do whatever they wanted. I would not be a part of it. Fortunately, Mother had a massive stroke 3 years after that and died very quickly (30 minutes). So that never became an issue.

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