Friday, October 12, 2018

I signed Do Not Resuscitate papers for my father

Two days ago I signed Do Not Resuscitate papers for my father. I expected to feel guilt, but that didn’t happen. This blog post explains why.

I don’t usually talk about family because I am quite a private person. However, I had a long conversation with Tom, my husband, last night and we think sharing my experience may be helpful.

A bit of background: my father walked out many years ago. He came back into my life just over a year ago because he had cancer.

It was not a Disney moment.  An attempt to reconnect failed.

This week I got a call from a doctor who informed me that matters are now coming to a close, and could I come for a discussion.

The other thing you should know about me is that back in the late 1990s, I helped my mother nurse a dear friend of ours, Christine, who had cancer. Back then, medicine wasn’t as good as it is now, and her doctors were callous.

Christine died in a lot of pain; so much pain, that her screams still haunt my mother and me today.

So, when my father reappeared to say he was sick, we wanted to be sure he had end of life care. That means palliative care and painkillers.

Luckily, Malaysians are compassionate people. There is a culture here of alleviating pain.

And this is what brings me to the message I want to share:

In modern life, we become insulated from many of the harsher elements of life. Sometimes, we don’t truly understand how much suffering a person can go through. As a result, when it comes to end of life care, we tie ourselves up in knots, wondering if we’re ‘interfering with fate’ or worse ‘killing’.

When I signed the DNR paperwork and then more papers to allow strong painkillers, I did so with gratitude. I felt grateful because I know how ugly passing from cancer can be. Making sure my father will not suffer an agonizing death is my gift to him.

I’m sharing my thoughts because I want to say that if you have to face a similar situation, please do not feel guilty. There is no benefit whatsoever in having someone suffer.