And The Verdict Is...
2005-10-06, 9:11 a.m.
So, we had the meeting with the doctors today.
And the verdict is....
It's pretty much what I thought, for the most part.
The doctors were extremely nice and on the ball, which was shocking. It was actually a pleasant experience to be at this meeting- go figure. They sent in a replacement for the neurologist, who was (according to Mom, nicer than the original) very frank about what's up.
* Mom can never take him home again. They were very much like, "It'll make you keel over if you do it. Please don't do it."
* Because they can't take him off the tubes without killing him, he's going to continue to get infections, get weaker every time, plateau and get worse, repeat ad infinitum. Infections cannot be prevented in any way. Presumably at some point during this lovely process, he may die.
* Life expectancy in this state, assuming he doesn't suddenly drop dead and continues roughly as is: 1-2 years. Which is exactly what I thought it was.
My psychic hunch has always been that it'll drag out to 2007. Mom thinks he might not make it past Christmas. Who knows.
* There are various steps one can take (or not) to let him go peacefully. Put a DNR on him if his heart stops, take him off antibiotics, take him off food, take him off the respiratior, stuff like that that can be done whenever. The only thing they specifically asked us about was to put a DNR on him because they thought resuscitating him would probably be too traumatizing for him. Mom agreed to that one, while crying. Everything else is still a go.
I got the impression when asking about life expectancy that she figures at some point we'll just decide he's had enough and take him off everything, rather than string it out to the absolute last minute. They didn't really push her about anything but the heart-stopping issue.
* At some point when they declare him "stable", he will be transferred to a "subacute" hospital where he won't see a doctor every day, but can just uh, lie around on the ventilator until he dies or gets worse or something. Aforementioned subacute hospital is just down the road from the rehab hospital. We still don't have to pay for it, thank gawd.
* Whether or not he's still "in there"- they have no way whatsoever to be able to tell that. The doctor actually said, "We could just be doing magical thinking here." He responds to boards being flashed at him "most of the time" as far as they can tell via blinking. But one of the typical aspects of his condition is being locked-in, and that makes it impossible to tell really, especially since this disease erodes the fuck out of your brain stem and all. It's also hard to tell since he's on the morphine to make him breathe better, but he gets hella sleepy when on it.
The doctor pointed out that some people (such as myself, obviously) may feel bad for saying that they are just ready for the person to die already. But that's "an act of loving kindness" to feel like that. Surprise, surprise.
And a funny note:
* The social services director lady met Auntie Dolores and Uncle Bruce once. Boy, she wasn't thrilled with them. She made a comment along the lines of, "Your uncle pretty much stood back and watched things. Your aunt...I think she knows when she's hit her limit on how much she can annoy people...and then just keeps going." Mom also said something along the lines of "But she means well," and the social services director lady said "Oh, I don't think so."
Hah! She figured all of that out after spending 20 minutes with 'em.
Anyway, we came out of that meeting actually feeling cheerful about things. Well, as much as you can given the situation anyway.
Then things got stressful for awhile- naturally the meeting got out so late that we had to haul ass to get fed, pick up some stuff I had to get, AND get back to the CC for my shift by 5:30. I very nearly didn't make it home on time because Mauricio called begging for a ride to the airport (the chick that was supposed to bring them over claimed she had a headache and flaked on it), and there was much debate as to whether or not he could find another ride or if Mom could just drop me off at the nearest train station. Thankfully for me, he found another ride before the train thing became an issue, because around 4 p.m. I don't think I could have caught a train to get me back in time.
And speaking of, Mauricio has asked if he can hang out with us for Thanksgiving. This is kind of baffling considering he he has a live-in girlfriend, who he's at least spending Christmas with, and going out of town with right now. I told Mom she should ask what the hell is up with that, because it doesn't make sense to me he wouldn't be with her for that particular holiday. She said she asked what the girlfriend was going to do and he said something like "I dunno."
Frankly, I think everyone should just be spending it with their own relatives and stay out of trouble. I sure as HELL don't want to spend a holiday at my mom's house. Most people want to stay home for the holidays, but I want to flee town. Even before the ugly family situation, every time we had people over to the house it was Meltdown Central. And this year, of course, it'll be worse. I suspect this year Mom won't want to go to Aunt Susie's anyway because we'll have to spend the day at the hospital and OMG TEH GUILT if we're not there all day. Sigh.
Why can't I just skip the holidays for the next two years?