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Say It

By Ellen
Posted on

I had the conversation with my spouse.

I told the physician who delivered the "bad news", that we would pull the breathing tube and let him die because that is what he wanted; To not be sustained by a ventilator for more time than needed for him to wake up.
My husband died suddenly a little over 5 months ago. He had a severe MI and ended up in hospital for nine days. In those nine days, I had to make a couple of what the physicians and nurses called “difficult” decisions. These decisions included whether to initially continue treatment and have a special heart catheter placed in his heart, and what needed to be done regarding dialysis and other measures. There was no doubt in my mind. We would not transfer him out of the hospital he was in, we would try to save his heart and see whether he would survive. I would never have known what to do had we not had a talk early in our marriage about what we wanted if anything like this ever happened. By the time of his heart attack, we had already been married for over thirty-two years. His heart survived, but when they tested him for brain function eight days out, he could not be weaned from the ventilator and his brain scan results were bad. So, then I knew again what to do. I told the physician who delivered the “bad news”, that we would pull the breathing tube and let him die because that is what he wanted; To not be sustained by a ventilator for more time than needed for him to wake up. There was no chance he would wake up since he had such extensive brain damage. I was called courageous, but I felt that this was not courage that made me make this decision, but my duty since I had promised I would do this for him. My adult daughter was present throughout everything during this time. It was very hard watching my husband breathe his last breath, but it happened quickly and we had support all around us. During the week that followed, my daughter and I were able to put together a memorial service for family & friends and a military funeral service for close family to attend. I have felt so lucky that my husband and I somehow had the sense to talk about something that is so important. My daughter and I are currently figuring out our lives without him. It is not easy, but we are both glad that we knew what he wanted at the end of his life, and were supported in following his wishes.

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