It’s one of those kind of calls no one likes to get. Where something’s wrong. Where it’s wrong enough that you know maybe the day will end with someone else not in it. Someone important to you, perhaps dear to you.
So I listen carefully to all the information I’m hearing. I make notes. Wheezing. Not eating. Chest x-ray ordered stat. Fluid on the lungs. Congestive heart failure. This is my dad we’re talking about.
Almost without thinking, I pack my little bag. A notebook. A pen. A book. My beloved cryptograms. Hand sanitizer. Phone charger. The list of issues, the list of warnings about which meds not to use, and why. Almost as if I expected to be spending endless hours in a hospital waiting room.
It’s a constant battle with the medical system, fighting to keep an aged loved one alive with respect and honor and quality of life. I’m sure each individual tries to do their part, but the fact is, once the system gets a hold of a very old person, it’s as if it does its best to kill them, and they are, in fact, pretty successful at it. Been down this road too much, a road I never wanted to go down at all. Went down the road first with my mom. They finally succeeded in her case, despite our best efforts.
Yeah. It’s true. I don’t have a lot of faith in the system. Not for a very aged person, at any rate. It’s as if they become inanimate, a guinea pig at best, forgotten or even targeted at worst. It’s not just advocacy, it’s a damned around-the-clock fight.
Everyone knows it. So right now, the fight is to keep him from falling into the clutches of the hospital. Right now, he’s in loving arms – skilled, loving arms that noticed right away something was not right. That jumped right away to see what was going on. That will work to do everything they can to right things. Once he crosses the line, however, they have to let go and relinquish him to that system. Essentially, that means saying goodbye.
Yeah, ultimately, we will have to say goodbye. But what a world of difference, to be plugged in, prodded, poked, and simultaneously pestered and ignored to death – around the clock – by an indifferent, monolithic, profit-driven medical system. Or. To be held, to be loved, to have comfort rendered, to be cherished, respected, honored, to have your pains and worries diminished – to death, around the clock.