When we left the house yesterday for the hospital, I really expected a short trip to the ER and then home. My dad certainly didn't have any physical signs that he needed a hospitalization. His weakness in the left arm appeared temporary.
About 90 minutes later, it seemed surreal to have a physician presenting a serious decision in front of us. My dad probably has a blood clot. Do we want him to have a test which could pinpoint the location of the blood clot but could potentially damage his remaining kidney?
By this time, my sister had joined my parents and I in the ER. So, the four of us worked through the decision. After the ER doctor explained the neurologist's recommendation and the risks associated with the test, my sister requested that the ER doctor speak with a nephrologist. My dad asked the doctor to give a recommendation. She hedged a bit but finally said, "Your symptoms right now are minor. If your symptoms change, you could consider the test."
After the doctor left to call a nephrologist, the four of us talked out the situation. We repeated what we had heard to make sure we all heard the same information. We talked out why would we have the test and why we wouldn't. My dad then turned to me and said, "What do you think?" I replied that I did not want him to have the test. My mom and sister agreed. When the doctor returned with the recommendation from the neurologist (he would give my dad an IV that could potentially offset the damage), we told her we didn't want the test. I later explained our decision to my brothers and other sister, who all agreed that the decision we made was the right one.
We're facing more decisions about my dad's treatment. The neurologist believes my dad has a blockage in his carotid artery. We'll know more tomorrow, which means we'll be presented with options. But, the neurologist made it clear he did not believe my dad would survive surgery. And, certainly, we don't want to put him through another surgery while he still recovers from his March surgery. We're getting to the point where my dad's problems (cancer, blood clots, failing kidney function) pile up as the solutions simply fade away. And, I have to tell you, my dad looks like he's fading away.
I've spoken with my siblings about decisions we may have to help my parents make tomorrow. We're all on board about the goal--to do what we can to keep my dad as comfortable as possible. We're ready to make the decisions that will ensure my dad's comfort and his speedy return to home.
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