Thursday, April 13, 2006

Nova Scotia Day 4

There are days when you have to make decisions. Some of them are affect
other people. Some of them are about other people. Some of them you make
around other people about them.
Today, a bit of all of them happened in one. My Mum, speaking to the
doctor treating my grandfather worried that he wouldn't be able to do
this sort of thing much longer.This sort of stress and recovery is just
too hard on a 90-year old, no matter how stubborn or robust he was in
his youth. The doctor knows the stress that he's been having adjusting
to his weakened state. He knows how independent my grandfather was, is
and wishes he still were. He knows that the move from a retirement home
to a nursing home would kill him, as my father says, as sure as a bullet.
Based on his assessment, the doctor felt that when he could no longer be
cared for at the retirement home and would have to make the move to the
next level of care, he would need to speak to my grandfather about
options. Options would mean continuing or discontinuing treatment. And
that means living or dying.
My mother was necessarily distraught over the idea of having to make
choices like that. She agreed with the doctor because we all know that
Grampy hasn't really wanted to live for a while now, and has said so on
several occasions; old soldier that he is, he can't surrender.
So we talked about it for a while. Somewhere in the conversation, I felt
a pang of guilt over spurring her to speak to Grampy about his wishes
yesterday. She wanted to, but was looking for a reason to avoid it and I
wouldn't give her one. Today we were discussing his death in more
concrete detail. I just wished briefly that the two conversations hadn't
been so close.
We spoke to the good folks at the retirement home and the manager
assured us that as long as he could weight bear, we wouldn't need to
consider endings. That may have bought him two months.
Mum resolved to speak to the doctor again.
In the evening my grandmother insisted that we have supper with her at
the home, which didn't please us much as senior portions and senior
level blandness would surely leave us wanting. In the end, you can't
really turn down aged family members flat. Two bags of microwave popcorn
back at the motel took the edge off.
There are days when you have to make decisions.

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