It's been a looooonnnnnggg time since I blogged. I'm not sure if I will continue this again, after this post, but I just want to put down a few thoughts.
First, tomorrow is Nathan's birthday. Happy 29th birthday, Nathan. You are a son that has brought me more hours of joy than you can imaine. You came into this world, as you have lived it. Not making a big fuss or big commotion, just quietly going about your business, doing your thing. Marching to your own drummer, not really caring so much what others think, confident in your own timing. I love you so much and am very proud of the man/son/father/husband you are.
Second, Aunt Shirley...on my mind big time. Aunt Shirley (86) has been in a nursing home, in the Alzheimers/Dementia wing for about a year and a half. Uncle Dick (89)lives at the same facility, but in a different, less restrictive wing. About a month ago, U.D. called to say that A.S. had been refusing food and meds. She eats, then she won't eat. Repeat. When she eats, it's very little. Evidently, this is part and parcel of the progression of dementia.
So, now the question is how to deal with this dilemma. Request a surgically implanted feeding tube that will guarantee the much needed nourishment and hydration? Or, let nature take it's course and let her gradually, slowly-but-surely, fade away. It's pretty much his call, but bless his no-internal fortitude-little-89-year-old heart, he is having a hard time making this call. Probably the MOST important call of their soon to be 50 year marriage.
I spoke to the nurse that manages her care today. They've been trying to get him to make a "yay" or "nay" decision about the feeding tube for nearly a month. He just can't bring himself to decide either way. And, I surely don't know what is best.
It's easy to say "let her go" when she's relatively healthy and one isn't faced with this choice. It's another thing when she's displaying behaviors that are clearly detrimental to her well being.
Here's the big issue. It's a quality of life vs. quantity of life thing At what point do we not fight that fight? As a person who values life, and has always believed there is a point and value in some suffering at times, even when it's not obvious what that purpose is, but at the same time, wanting to be compassionate and gentle and respectful, it's hard to know what advice to give U.D. He's looking to me to help him. I won't (can't) make that decision for him, but he knows how I feel about her, recognizes me as her primary living relative who has a vested interest in her well being and is looking to me for guidance.
She pretty much has zero, what we call, quality of life. She lives her entire life, with the exception of an hour or so when she's taken to the dining room once a day, in her room. She can no longer walk or transfer herself out of bed or use the bathroom without assistance. She still knows Uncle Dick, but I don't know if she's going to recognize me when I go see her in a few weeks. But, that whole "quality of life" thing bugs me. Who are we (I) to define "quality" of life. Isn't all life "quality" life? Didn't Christ die and atone for all of us? Did he say, "I'm going to atone for everyone who has a really good quality of life, but for those who aren't active or are paralyzed or have ALS or other insidious diseases, who leave them with a pretty crappy "quality of life", they're out of luck"? Of course not! All life is precious to him. It's not what we do that gives our life quality, in His eyes, is it? It's who we are. God's child.
So, "quality" of life...should it factor in? It SEEMS obvious that it should, right? But, are we really qualified to make that call? So, then, the question becomes, how far should we go to extend life?
I don't have the answer to this one. I'm suspecting it is going to be a while in coming, after much prayer and contemplation. And, I'm praying for my Uncle Dick, that he can make the decisions he needs to make and have a sense of peace and assurance that he's made the correct choice. When he finally gets around to making it.