Sunday, February 1, 2009
1820 hrs. -- This visit is going poorly. Raymond C. is very close to death and his wife, daughter and son-in-law are completely freaking out. The tension and edginess in this house are palpable and I just can't seem to give this family whatever it is they need.
"You know he's sufffering and he doesn't deserve this! No one should have to die this way!", blurts Bob, the son-in-law. Bob's wife, Marcy, is up and pacing, wringing her hands and making little whimpery noises. Mrs. C. is sitting at the dining room table and giving me the cold stare of doom.
"Please, Bob", I say, "I've sat with Ray twice now and I truly feel that he's not suffering." It's true... Mr. C. is quite peaceful. Semi-comatose, no restlessness, no grimacing, not even a "rattle". Only a rare, unintelligible, soft vocalization. Maybe that's what's got them in a tizzy. Maybe they're interpreting any noise he makes as an expression of agony. One thing I feel sure of... Raymond isn't suffering. It's his family that's in torment.
Calmly, gently I explain my position on Mr. C's comfort in detail and attempt to assure the family that they are providing excellent care for Ray. I end by saying:
"Please, everyone...I truly feel that your suffering far exceeds anything that Ray may be going through. What can I do to help you through this difficult time?"
Hissing, nearly spitting the words through his clenched teeth, Bob responds immediately:
"I want this over with now! You, you stop it! He doesn't deserve this!"
Jesus, Buddha, saints and angels... I've run into this sort of "request" before, but have never heard it expressed so blatantly. How dare you think of me in this way? What were once sincere offerings of compassion are quickly turning into feelings of contempt.
To be continued...