Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vegetative State--What Should My Family Do?

On Easter Sunday of 2008, my grandfather was rushed to the emergency room. Having been in bed rest for the past 2 months, going to the emergency was a routine event. Every month we would take him to the hospital, have water pumped out from his lungs and bring him back home.

On March 24, my grandparents were to move to Las Vegas to live with my uncle. We went on Sunday to help pack and celebrate Easter. Who knew that this would have been his last. All of a sudden he closed his eyes and would not respond to any of us. My mother became hysteric seeing her father in that condition. We shook him. We yelled out his name. Nothing. Watching 3 men carry my helpless grandfather onto chair was traumatizing.

We all went to the hospital following the emergency car. From 4:00pm to 10:00 pm we had no clue what was going on with our grandfather. We sat in the waiting room expecting the worst. Then around 10:00pm the doctor said we can go and see him one by one. We all had smiles on our faces. Sadly those smiles were going to turn into tears and utter chaos in the following days.

On Monday one day after he was sent to the hospital, my family woke up to go and help my grandmother and uncle move their belongings into the moving van. Everything was set. Everything was packed. Everyone was ready to go except no one went anywhere. My grandmother had to stay with my grandfather. My uncle, who had arrived from Las Vegas to help with the move had no other option but to take their belongings to Vegas since he had given more than 600 dollars for the moving van. So while my grandparents belongings are in Vegas, my grandparents are here.

We were all eager that my grandfather would be released on Monday and my uncle would be able to take him to Vegas. This was surely not the case. Since Monday, my grandfather has not spoken a word nor has opened his eyes. He doesn't respond to us. He can't see us. He has feeding tubes in his nose and is on oxygen support. He is 82 years old and has never smoked nor drank and yet he has had open heart surgery.

For the past 6 days my grandfather has been in a vegetative state according to one doctor. According to another doctor he is in a coma. My family can't decide what to do. Do we still feed him through the tube and transfer him to a nursing home in hopes that he will get better? Or do we pull out the feeding tube and let him die? Just the thought of having to make this decision is traumatizing for both my mother, uncle and my grandmother. They have to decide what to do. Do we put him in a nursing home and make my grandmother stay in LA? Do we simply allow him to starve to death? It's a tough situation.

I remember watching the case of Terry Schiavo's case where there was a conflict between the husband's wishes and that of the parents. The husband wanted her to die and the parents wanted her to live. I guess you could see in my tone that I want my grandfather to live. Do we allow my grandfather to be in pain, having millions of tubes around him or shall we simply pull the plug and let him rest. The decision to take away food from someone you love, and watching him die is just unheard of.

I just came back from the hospital with my family. We sit there around my grandfather and start crying. We sit there touching his feet, touching his hands hoping he would give some sort of feedback. But nothing. My mom wants to shake him, wants to yell him so he can wake up. But there is nothing. He is breathing, he is sneezing, he is coughing, he is yawning but he is not alive. It's always easier to judge other people by saying how can you let someone die, how can you remove the feeding tubes while his heart is still breathing? It is always diferent when it is personal. My mother and uncle and grandmother are going to have a final talk with the doctor to decide my grandfather's death. I still can't believe this is happening to my family, to my grandfather. The same person who at every occasion said, "Everything is wonderful" is now laying helpless in room 510.


-L said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather :(

Hopefully he will pull out of this soon!

MetaMuslim said...

I hope everything turns out okay. My prayers go out to your grandfather and his loved ones.

Shaheen Lakhan said...

I too feel for you and your grandfather. The Schiavo's case at least brought attention to this issue. We recently wrote about this at the GNIF Brain Blogger. Most importantly, there is an issue of misdiagnosis. While many people can spontaneously recover from a persistent vegetative state, it is possible that those who do so were misdiagnosed to start.


B.Kuz said...

Thank you all for your warm wishes. It is greatly appreciated.