Recently, my father was hospitalized with breathing problems related to his heart. One day after many tests, a very cheerful young woman came in to talk with my us about his situation. I listened quietly for a while as this woman explained that there really isn’t anything more they can do for him. She went on to suggest that it is time for palliative care. “What is important for you?” “What are you looking for?” She said that he had been to the emergency department several times in the last few months, and there really isn’t anything they can do any more. She suggested that he could stay home, eat whatever he wanted, and they would give him a little morphine to comfort him. What she was trying to say without saying it: “You’re wasting resources, and a burden on the system and your family. Just stay home and die, and we can help you do that.”
That’s when I gave it to her. I said, “I’m a priest, and my parents are very faithful Catholics. We don’t need you to come into our home and kill my father. I and, many other priests know how this works (if it’s not guided by solid Catholic ethics).” They figure you are old, useless, wasting resources, and a burden to your family. When they get tired of you, you get a bigger dose of morphine than necessary and your heart stops. It happened to one of my aunts. I have seen people deprived of nutrition and hydration in local facilities. They aren’t going to do it to my family!
I upset her so much, she cam back a few minutes later with her supervisor. I gave her the same medicine. I know they were not happy, but I really don’t give a hoot. Another woman came in when I wasn’t there yet. So they got my point. The next day, a doctor came in and suggested a catherization, but they would have transfer my father to another hospital since they did not have the capability where he was.
After being transferred to the other hospital, they administered other medications to prepare him for the procedure. Today, they did the Catheterization. They found his heart to be weak but not damaged. There was no need for stints, and it is treatable with medication. The doctors changed his meds and said that his heart would begin to heal within a few weeks or months. This situation gives a few really good lessons. First, you need to stand up for yourselves and your loved ones. Second, get a second opinion. And last but not least, trust in the Lord. We are in God’s hands, and “nothing is impossible with God.”