A few weeks ago, I wrote about the challenges of dealing with my father’s health problems and the inability of doctor’s to reach a conclusive diagnosis. He has experienced seizures, weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite.
After many diagnostic tests and uncomfortable procedures, he was finally diagnosed with a meningioma, which is basically a benign brain tumor. It’s possible that the tumor has been there for a long time and never caused problems until now. But with symptoms and increased pressure on the brain, treatment becomes more important to avoid accidents, falls, or worse.
New anti-seizure medications are helping him some, but the weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite don’t seem to improve. It’s possible that additional testing may offer more options for care, including surgery or other procedures.
Doctors have few answers and the healthcare system in rural southwest Virginia is not optimal. So, my two brothers and two sisters find ourselves in a dilemma wondering about the best course of action – and not truly understanding our role in “forcing” him to do anything.
As for my dad, he says, “I’m 85 years old and I’m not going to do anything I don’t have to do. As long as I can live comfortably and not cause too many problems for anyone else, then I’m okay. I’m not going to have surgery or any life-saving treatments, so why do I need to keep going through tests?”
Enough said dad.
At 85 years old, is his health status something we are resigned to “expect” and accept?
Or is there more we should force him to do?
If I make it until I’m 85 years old, I’m not sure I’ll put myself through a string of procedures, treatments, surgeries, and other medical situations that “just might” add a couple of years, or months, or days to my life while decreasing the quality of my days. After all, a lot of living and quality of life are sacrificed while all of this medical mumbo jumbo is going on.
Somewhere along the line, something has to be said for the quality of life. And the personal wishes of the individual.
No matter what happens with Obamacare, medical technology advancements, improvements in prolonging life, and healthcare reform, patients are still individual human beings with feelings, thoughts and personal desires. And they have families who love them and will be there to care for them no matter what decisions they make.
I’m not sure where we’ll go next with my dad’s care – but I know one thing for sure. I will respect his decisions and how he wants to be treated as a person. No amount of healthcare in the world can take the place of personal choice for care options.
And I’ll be there for my dad, no matter what he needs. That’s what family is all about.