My Christmas sucked, how was yours?
December 24, 2010 6:36 AM Subscribe
Dad is on life support. He has no advance directive/living will. How do we make end-of-life decisions when none of us are capable of thinking clearly?
posted by kella to health & fitness (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, if anyone's reading this and DOESN'T have a living will, go make one. Even if you're young and healthy. Just.... seriously. Go.
My father is 57 years old. About a year and a half ago, he had a heart transplant. The transplant was an amazing success, but a month and a half ago he fell ill with a virus and has been extremely sick ever since. He's been hospitalized since Thanksgiving and his health has slowly declined since then. Roughly two weeks ago he was put on a feeding tube, and yesterday he was put on a ventilator. The doctors seem to have no idea what his odds of recovery are, but the picture they're painting is pretty grim.
Last night, I found out that my dad has no living will. Googling tells me that any decisions will probably fall to my mother. But dad's family is huge and very close to him. He has siblings and a mother who have been very involved and very present throughout this whole ordeal. I know that his mother and my mother will disagree on the subject of under what conditions he should be kept on life support. I know the subject hasn't been raised except for between my mother and I. The question is, in the worst case scenario where we're told he's not going to recover, who makes this decision? And how do we do it without creating a rift in the family? My mother and I have a wonderful relationship with dad's family, and it breaks my heart to think that we're probably about to start fighting over this.
There's a lot of great information here on askme about dealing with the death of a parent, but most of it relates to wills, estates, burial plans, etc. Those are bridges we will cross if he doesn't make it (but helpful nonetheless, because I'm sure no plans have been made for that, either).
If anyone has any advice for getting through the next couple weeks, I'd love to hear that, too. He's had so many health-related close calls that I've become pretty good at staying strong and levelheaded in crisis mode. But I don't know how to do this part. He was sedated for the intubation about half an hour before I got to the hospital yesterday, so I haven't been able to talk to him at all. I've dealt with grief before but not on this scale. Any suggestions for coping (or pretending to cope) would be appreciated.