Friday, 25 February 2011

The tigers have found me

I am open and flayed, all that is left of me sprawled inelegantly over the couch. I am trying to write and all that comes out is incomprehensible. My eyes won't focus and my fingers uncoordinated.

I met a young lady of 90 and a half years tonight. The half was apparently as important at 90 as it was at 9. She was adorable. And sick. And had seen far too many doctors who had shoved far too many needles in her and attached her to too many machines. And she was a little bit sick of it all.

I was the doctor looking after her today, and I didn't do any of that. Instead I listened. And listened. And then I listened some more. And then squeezed her hand and told her I wasn't going to do any of those things. Instead, while sitting on her 4 wheely walker, my head pounding from the right frontal migraine as my vision blurred and the nausea heaved in my belly, I asked her if anyone had ever talked to her about what was going to happen.

About how young ladies of 90 and a half, who have problems with their heart can have problems with fluid building up in their legs and in their lungs. About how we can sometimes use medication to stop that, but sometimes we can't. And sometimes it gets harder and harder to treat that, and instead it causes too much stress and it can actually lead to death. And she was not afraid of that, in fact she felt like she was dying, but no one seemed to be game enough to come out and say that to her.

She is going to die, as assuredly as we're all going to die, but at 90 and a half, it will be sooner for her than for me. And she's not afraid of it, nor am I, because she's just about done with living. Not depressed, just worn out, and no longer afraid that she has anything else left to do. Just wanting to be comfortable. To not have pain and not have that terrible feeling in her chest of not being able to breathe.

And she and her daughter were so grateful taht I sat there and spoke to them, and said that. That even though my vision was swimming and my whole body hurt and I wanted nothing more than to get in my car and come home and just not. be. at. work. I know I did the right thing.

But oh, when I stumbled through my front door and tried to latch it as I closed it, and heard the silence of a house of sleeping children I was so horribly tired. And I missed them. And wished so much that my need to do right and look after others woudl stop impacting on my babies.


cjtato said...

You are a really great person! My grandmother was a month off 99 when she died and it was people like you that made it so much easier. The people who made it harder were the people who were trying to "save" her. For what? Like she had a whole life ahead of her?

She was ready to go three years before that and they "saved" her and she was put in a nursing home, lost her independence and control of her bowel.

It's not that I'm not grateful. She got to meet two more grandchildren (though she probably couldn't remember them) but her life went downhill so significantly that it hardly seemed like the right thing to do for her.

And we want to believe that doctors are right (I think even moreso with the oldies in that they daren't question the professional) so when they weren't there she would tell us to let her go and when they were there she would agree with everything they said.

Okay, so maybe you've hit a nerve. ;p

Anyway, I think you're great!!! Hope the migraine has eased. :D

Jenn said...

Thanks for telling me about your grandma - sometimes that niggling doubt jumps in of, maybe I should have just toed the line? It keeps me up sometime.

99 is an amazing age though - I hope that I may live so long!


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