Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
It sounds so final.
It sounds cruel.
It sounds like death.
Do not resuscitate (DNR) order is a part of advanced medical directives allowed by federal law passed in 1991, expanding the notion of patient autonomy to situations in which they may not be able to make crucial medical decisions due to incapacitation. It instructs medical personnel not to perform life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other procedures to restart the heart or breathing once they have ceased. By law, the DNR directive must be offered as an option to patients by health providers in, and in some states, out of a hospital setting. Once signed, the DNR directive must be placed in the in the patient’s chart. (Encyclopedia of Surgery: A guide for Patients and Caregivers)
My true confession; yesterday, I talked about the fact that we fall into the trap of not talking about end of life issues with the hopes that they will just go away. I understand that quite well.
My mom had a stroke and went directly from the hospital to a long term care facility for rehabilitation. After it became evident that she would not be returning home, we had to complete paperwork for her to become a permanent resident of the long term care facility. One of the forms that was to be completed asked what should or should not be done in case of heart failure. In short, they wanted to know if they were to perform. The core question was resuscitate or let her….die?
I slipped the form out of pile of papers, hoping that they wouldn’t notice. I knew what I thought was the right thing to do, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, I put my proverbial hands over my ears and went along my merry way. A couple of days later, I got a call advising me that they needed the form. Honestly, I avoided them for about another week, but they wouldn’t let it go. Finally, I completed the form and returned it. I felt sick. I felt like had, in essence, signed my mother’s life away…literally. I cried for days….
It’s a personal decision, so I won’t tell you what you should or should not do. What I will say, is that you have to at least think about it. If your loved one has not already made a decision regarding this important issue, then you, as the caregiver, must at least give it some attention. And believe me; it’s better to think about it in “good” times. It’s much more difficult and complicated when you are in an emergency room, hospital room or long term care facility with medical personnel on one side and family members on the other all looking to you for a decision.
So, don’t ignore this difficult issue. Ignoring it isn’t going to help the situation, nor will it just go away. So, take time now, friend. Think about, ponder and consider this very difficult decision.