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We didn’t talk enough

By Lisa
Posted on

I had the conversation with my parent.

I guess we hadn't discussed resuscitation enough
I remember my mother instigating “the conversation” about organ donation, burial vs cremation, etc about the time my brother and I had left home and my sister had reached 16 years of age, but I guess we hadn’t discussed resuscitation enough. After my mother’s first operation in her battle against cancer (many, many years after the conversation) she went into a coma and the doctors advised the family that she was dying.

My father, sister and I prepared ourselves for this event but my brother suddenly wanted us to fight for life on her behalf and wanted to put her on life support in case she came out of the coma. My sister (a nurse) was mum’s Enduring Power of Attorney and with our father’s and my support would have voted against my brother and let mum die as she wished.

We were lucky that mum did come out of the coma four days later, without having to be put on life support and much to the astonishment of all the medical staff. When she was well enough and mentally competent we told her of the family arguments over life support. She was glad we had discussed it as a family, then promptly completed a “Will of Life” i.e. lodged a formal “Do Not Resuscitate” form so the decision was taken out of our hands.

Three years later the cancer won the war, but mum had had time to list her wishes including funeral arrangements so all of us knew what to plan for. Mum died at home with her family around her as she wanted but my sister and I still had to stand up for her rights against the palliative care nurse and GP when it came to pain treatment (how much morphine does it take before a dying body is pain free vs euthanasia? Another topic for discussion?).

I advise everyone to have the conversation – death is inevitable so let your wishes be known well in advance as it makes life so much less complicated for those we love who have to deal with the consequences.

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