Dying With Dignity Quote That Helped Family Cope.

I received a nice Facebook comment from a long time reader about a piece I wrote several years ago about the right to die with dignity.  Read on.
Just wanted to let you know, I had saved one of your blogs on death with dignity from 2009. It struck me then as logical and kind.  My siblings and I just dealt with the death of my mother. Mild dementia, and DM and was slowing down at 76. It was painful to watch. She fell and fractured an ankle in Nov. It went downhill quickly after that, UTI after UTI ( I hate routing catheter placement btw) until it led to sepsis and acute kidney failure.

With her condition worsening and her dementia taking a drastic upturn, we decided enough was enough when dialysis was offered. Comfort measures only, hospice care, no more torture. It was a horrible decision that I never thought I would have to make. It is much easier to recommend it to patients, but I have a new empathy being on this side of the fence.

I made it to Fl on a Saturday, we laughed, talked a bit, made the decision. She died, in peace, the following Thursday. It was heart wrenching  .Did we make the right decision? Going thru my timeline, I saw I had saved that blog to my notes and re-read it. It was true then and true now. Death with dignity. I have written about it for ethics class, but now I have experienced it in my own family. More needs said on this subject. My sister, who was also feeling guilty at 'pulling the plug' also got some comfort from reading this.

I must thank you. For the past few weeks since it happened, I have had guilt over what I know I would have wanted for me had I been in the same condition.  This is, by far, the most comforting sentence, "we all know that by offering them everything, we are in fact giving them nothing". I'm glad I kept this piece. Just wanted to let you know that you do help. 
Thank you for your kind words and I am grateful my words were able to help.  I have been Graced with an excellent palliative care team in my daily practice.  Palliative care is about the only patient centered specialty we have.    A lot of what we recommend  for patients, we do so out of our own experience and curiosity. In palliative care, the patient is the center of the universe.  This process  really is about defining goals and expectations and helping patients and physician team members understand our limitations.  We know the palliative philosophy can dramatically improve the patient and family  experience during the process of decline. Telling patients "no" is part of my responsibility as a physician.  Sometimes physicians need to be told the same during the end of life palliative care process.

I'm glad your mother is at peace.  You did the right thing.  I have no doubt in my mind.  You pulled the plug on her misery and sprung her free.  Who wouldn't want that?

UPDATE:  Read this shocking breaking story about an RN in Arizona, Amanda Trujillo, who was disciplined for providing a patient with  the informed portion of the consent process.  Go read the allegations as they relate to this story.  They are disturbing to say the least.  

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