Thursday, December 29, 2011

What do you do when doctors say they can't do anything?

A dear friend's father has been lying in a hospital bed in a comatose state for the past 72 hours. A Parkinson's patient, he fell when the wheelchair he was sitting in turned over. He hasn't responded since. There has been no external injury but the CT scan shows cerebral haemorrhages and clots. His chances are slim, but he is breathing and that too, deeply. He moves his toes sometimes and his body is warm even in the cool environment of the ICU. They're feeding him through a tube, like they have been doing since August. It's a situation no doctor wants to be in. They say they can't do anything. Surgery is ruled out because of his age and the advanced state of his disease. His family, much as they love him, don't want him to suffer anymore. All they can do is wait, like the doctor told them to do: "It is only a matter of time." But time has no limit. And the body doesn't give up easily. And neither can we, our loved ones. So taking one step at a time, one day at a time may help. A slight twitch here, a movement there for a patient at this stage is the equivalent of making a mark on the moon. It may not sum up to anything but it is still there and just that knowledge is comforting and we may take better care of him. Sometimes, it is better to aim for a 10 per cent recovery than to give up hope altogether. At least he will go with a subconscious feeling of being looked after when his days were numbered.

1 comment:

Ramesh Narendrarai Desai said...

Decisions in such situations are hard to take. One has to take everything into account and do one's best under the circumstances. if the illness is a long drawn out one, he may need to be shifted home and necessary life sustaining apparatus set up at home. It is not for outsiders to suggest any course of action. Near and dear ones will do the needful.