Sunday, November 14, 2010
Six years ago I was called upon to make that decision. To literally have another's life in your hands is frightening beyond words. What a terrible dilemma - never mind that we had discussed this and agreed that we would never let the other be incapacitated to that degree.
Never mind that Tom's right brain was destroyed - it was blank on the MRI. The neurologist said she didn't think he could wake up because of the extensive new damage coupled with the damage on the other side of his brain from two previous strokes. Never mind that the Doc felt that even if he awoke he probably would be deaf, blind, have limited, if any, higher functioning. Never mind that Tom was already frustrated by the deficits caused by earlier CVAs. Never mind, never mind, never mind.
I looked at those MRI's many times over a day and a half - with my dear sister Lisa and then with my dear sister Joan - guided by the neurologist, a no-nonsense chinese-american woman. She returned to show the MRI when I needed to see it; each time she patiently described what I was seeing on the image.
Even though I knew what Tom wanted - how gut wrenching to finally say, "do it" - I stood by the bed while they took the breathing tube out of his throat - holding his feet with one hand and clasping Joan's hand with the other.
It was the right thing to do; the fulfillment of a sacred commitment and promise - I hope that I am never called upon to make that decision again.