Amid all the merriment (and eating and drinking) that accompanies the holidays, I experienced a bracing dose of reality this last week that reminded me of something that we’ll all be facing sooner or later.
Sorry to be so depressing, and that’s not my intention. Rather, it’s my hope that we can all take a healthy look at this event that awaits us at the end of our lives.
What brings such morbid thoughts on? The lingering illness of my father-in-law who’s been battling Parkinson’s Disease for almost two decades now and is almost certainly in the final stage of the disease.
He’s been cared for the last couple of years by his loving wife, his sweetheart for the last 60 years, along with nursing aides who have been at home with them for usually 12-16 hours a day.
Home care was a better situation than sending him to a nursing home. But then he fell down and suffered a compression fracture which sent him to a hospital where it was also discovered he was suffering from pneumonia.
And it was also determined that his throat had constricted so much from a bout with cancer that he could no longer eat orally. Instead, a feeding tube was put in.
So now he’s recovering in a nursing home where he fell out of bed the other day and was sent to the ER for a few hours before being returned to the nursing home where he now lies on his back, 24 hours a day, barely awake most of the time.
He’s a prisoner in his bed. We’d love to have him back home so he can be with family, but doctors aren’t sure we can handle it.
The question is, How much is enough? He can’t answer us because he can’t speak coherently. All we can do is imagine ourselves in his position, and determine what we would want. But do you base such a monumental decision on that? Do you play God?
No easy answers here, but strangely, here at Chrsitmastime, it might be the appropriate time for us to seriously consider such questions, not only for our family members but for ourselves.