When I opened the door there were 3 people in the family room: a woman who was Mr. Barnes’ wife and a couple in their mid-50’s—a son and his wife. Abruptly stopping their conversation, they turned to look at me with quiet dread. I recognized their expressions, it’s the same one I see each time I have to visit a family in the “family gathering room.” Here, they are gathered by my staff to hear serious news about someone they love. When I open the door, everyone catches their breath; eyeing me to interpret my body language, trying to know beforehand what I am about to say.
“He is very sick,” I began to explain. Sitting down beside his wife, I began to give details of his respiratory failure and how I had followed the medical orders sent from the rehabilitation hospital, by placing him on an artificial ventilator machine. After reciting what I had just done to Mr. Barnes, I paused, preparing to shift the conversation to how we should proceed next.
I am dealing with this right now with my Mother, though she is at home and will hopefully be here until the Lord calls her home. If you aren't in the same place one day you will be. It is best to have your wishes known and follow this good advice ahead of time.
1. How do people typically die from ___(stroke, heart attack, etc. or any disease)___— ?
2. If this was your mother or father, what would you do next?
3. How will we know when to ask for hospice care?
4. What are the signs of dying?
5. Can you support us in trying to take our loved one home?
If your doctor is unwilling to engage you in answering these questions, or is unable to support you, then find another doctor who can. The whole quality of the end of your life depends on it.