I received a benign phone call at work that my dad had been taken to the hospital, possibly with a heart attack. I left immediately and drove to Sacramento and reached the hospital in time to see him hooked up to every machine possible to keep him alive. Bypass surgury was scheduled for the following morning. My stepmom and I stayed by his bedside for three weeks grooming him, loving him, but only to watch him deteriorate daily. The doctors kept pushing optimisim but we kept seeing him suffer as he was going into multiple system failure. He was alert part of the time and we would watch him gasp for breath, even though he was on a ventalator. The family flew in and we called a meeting to make the decision not to allow any further intervention so his suffering would end. The surgeons and the cardiologist had a vested interest in keeping him alive until they could transport him to a nursing home. They accused us of giving up on him and made the statement, "We don't really want to kill him off right now, do we?" The ethics committee, the nurses caring for him, and the sisters at the hospital tried to support us, but with no avail to the decisions of the doctors. One night my dad's blood pressure started to drop and his coloring was gray. The nurse called to alert us that we may want to get back to the hospital as soon as possible. He had been comatose for two days so we were feeling lost and terribly confused. The doctors at that point let "US" make the decision to perform no heroic measures. He left us two hours later. Right before he died his eyes opened up and looked straight into mine--he then closed them and he was gone. Everyone felt he was saying goodbye. I sometimes feel he was asking me to help him, but maybe he was saying goodbye. My pain is deep because I'll never know if our decision was the right one. I am a nurse so the family depended upon my input in making that decision. He loved life so much. He told jokes sang silly songs and made everyone feel so special and happy. He looked so sad and so scared the last week of his life and so helpless. I miss him so much. I try not to think about it, but it's there every minute of the day. My nights are long and sleepless waiting for him to come back and let me know he's ok and he loves me.
You can send email to Vicki Lee at: [email protected]
date of post 11-16-96