Sunday, May 18, 2014

Can't Breathe

"Doctor...why is it...suddenly so hard...to breath?"

"Well, we just took your chest tube out because it looked like your collapsed lung was resolved, but it looks like your lung is collapsing again. We'd like you to sign the consent form so we can put the chest tube back in."

"But it hurt...so bad last time...and it was so...uncomfortable having it in."

"We can give you some shots to make the pain better, but I don't it isn't comfortable having a tube in your chest."

"Can't you...knock me out?"

"There's no time to take you to the operating room. This is something you'll need right now."

"It was...so painful...Can I think...about it?"

"Yes, it is your choice. But right now your lung is collapsing. It is putting pressure on your heart so your heart can't beat right. Your face is already swelling up from the blood backing up. If you choose not to do this you will die today."

"Just...let me...think...about...it."

"Okay. I'll be right outside the door. Nurse, go get the crash cart."

(5 minutes pass)

"Doc...tor. Okay, I...can't breath...Knock...me...out?"

"There's no time. You need this now. Will you sign the consent form?"

"Okay."

Prolonging Life

"Hi, I'm on the hospital team that is taking care of you. I read in your chart that you are here because of shortness of breath."

"Yes, I feel like I can't breath."

"Now, I read in a note that your nurse wrote that you don't want a chest xray or an IV."

"That's right. I've lived a long life and I don't believe in prolonging my life anymore."

"I understand that and I respect your wishes, but I'm worried that you might have a pneumonia. If that's the case then we can give you some antibiotics so that you can feel better. In order to check, I'd like to do an xray and a blood test."

"Will the xray and blood test prolong my life?"

"I don't know. Until we know for certain what's wrong I can't tell you what may or may not help, but those will help guide our decisions and improve the quality of the life you have left."

"I just don't want to prolong my life."

"I understand that. I just want to help make you comfortable. Think of it like food. I know you don't want to prolong your life, but that breakfast you are eating is also prolonging your life."

"They are also giving me oxygen in this mask. Does oxygen prolong life?"

"Why don't I call your daughter and we can all have a meeting together? Is that okay?"