My disappointment with Western Medicine grows ever wider.
The day my mother fell ill, I had doctors calling non-stop to get permission my for one procedure after the other. They didn’t like that I was asking questions—I mean, how CRAZY to want informed consent!—but they responded, because they had to.
That was the last I heard from them.
No follow-up calls were placed letting me know how the procedures went. And no one returned my calls, because they didn’t have to.
The nurses weren’t “allowed” to share the results, because only a doctor could give me that information. Of the news they could disclose, most times, it contradicted the report I’d been given earlier.
Things didn’t get better once I arrived at the hospital.
Me, “Doctor, can you please tell me the results of my mother’s procedures?”
Them, “Your mom suffered a massive stroke.”
Me, “I was told the procedures would lessen the repercussions. Did they work?”
Them, shrugging, “Your mom’s 94.”
Me, “I don’t know what that means.”
Them, reading from my mother’s chart, because whichever doctor was making the rounds, had never once laid eyes on her, “Your mom suffered a massive stroke,” and without further discussion, added, “you need to let her go.”
Me, “So, the operations weren’t successful?”
Them, “Your mom’s 94.”
Every doctor I encountered was incapable of providing decipherable answers to my questions, they just kept pressuring me to “let her go.”
After hours of looking at my mom’s mangled body—her totally aware, suffering, unable to speak, to move, to advocate for herself—I finally demanded to speak with the head doctor.
The Good Doctor came down and patiently satisfied my need to understand what my mother was up against. To my last question, he offered his opinion.
The Good Doctor, “I don’t think your mom will make it. If she does, she won’t have what you’d call a quality life.”
Me, “What are you saying?”
The Good Doctor, “Your mother won’t last ten minutes if we take her off life support, I suggest letting her go.”
Me, “My mom is anxious on an ordinary day and this is the type of death she feared most. Can you give her something so she won’t know what’s happening?”
The Good Doctor said that he could, so my brother’s and I consented to ending her life.
The intubation tube was removed and my mother lasted MORE than the ten minutes predicted. For the next 90 minutes, her eyes remained open and she was quite aware that she was drowning to death. At our request, the staff kept upping the medication to ease her terror. She finally closed her eyes, yet didn’t die for another four hours.
Two hours before she passed, the neurologist came in with the results of her second CT scan.
The Bad Doctor, “There’s no sign that your mother had a stroke.”
Me, “WTF are you talking about! We’re in there shooting my mother up with all kinds of drugs and now you’re saying she didn’t have a stroke?”
The Bad Doctor, shrugging, “Your mom’s 94.”
I insisted that I speak with the Good Doctor again. He said that no matter what the scan showed, it was still his opinion that my mom wouldn’t regain a quality life. So, my brother’s and I continued on the path toward my mother’s demise.
Many months later, Them, rid of me. Me, second guessing myself.
Here’s to you if you have the courage to challenge authority. If you’re willing to be a voice for those who can’t find their own. It takes guts. But it’s never been more important, especially given the crazy, crazy days just thrust upon us. And as scary as summoning up courage is, the rewards are worth it. Strength. Power. Connection. Purpose. A New and Better You.
The photo: London, 2006, talking on the phone with my recently widowed mother. Because no matter where you are in the world—physically, emotionally, spiritually—you should always call your mom.