Several years ago my disabled daughter was admitted to a nursing home due to loss of home nursing care. After being there for several days I received a call from them saying she had been transferred to a local hospital after “coding”. I rushed to the hospital and what unfolded over the next 3 months was beyond shocking.
Lee had been disabled for 11 years and shortly into her disability at age 19, became a vent patient with extensive medical complications. It was nothing short of a miracle that she lived to the age of 30. We all knew how fragile her life was and always knew the outcome, but never when. What I learned a few weeks into the next chapter was that when she was admitted to the nursing home, the end-of-life discussion had taken place, the DNR form signed BUT NEVER “WITNESSED”. I was beyond being in shock but it still didn’t make sense to me.
After the code, Lee was transferred to a Boston ICU, still in a coma and two wonderful ICU doctors were assigned to me. They were the psychiatry support team.
I was now in the position of what to do next. I gathered with my family and I still couldn’t figure out what to do. I didn’t want that guilt of THAT decision hanging over ME. And then it hit me. Lee, in her infinite wisdom had made her statement by signing the DNR order in the nursing home. That was the answer. The fact that the form was never witnessed, at that point was moot. I had the answer. Her answer. Right in front of me.
The point of this story is get all forms witnessed so they are legal. Luckily, I was able to finally see that, but sadly, it took me way to long.
As a result of this “life” experience, I instigated the end of life conversation with my family so they wouldn’t feel awkward. My doctor was very surprised at my straight forward attitude about this and even upon signing my MOLST form wondering if I had a full deck of cards.
Please start the conversation yourself. I now know that no one will feel guilty!
PS: This show on Chronicle aired on THE anniversary date of Lee’s “code.”