“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” John 13:1.
“What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” John 13:7.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1.
I am so thankful for these verses that a friend sent to me today. They comfort my heart as nothing else does. There is so much that I simply do not understand. But I don’t need to. I have a father in heaven who understands all.
Today we had a family meeting with the doctors. Truthfully, it did not go the way I expected. I thought that the doctor would begin by explaining everything to the family, and asking the family to ask questions. However, the dynamic also was different because Rich had indicated that he too wanted to be in the meeting. Which was right and good. Rich and I had talked earlier about his condition. Talked is a difficult word. I asked him questions, and he answered with yes or no, using his eyes. Looking up was Yes, looking down was no. Through those signs we talked about his stroke, and he understood what is wrong, his chances for recovery. We also were able to read some scripture and pray together.
The meeting began with the doctor conducting a full neuro exam on Rich. That exam revealed several things. He has feeling in all his extremities. To the doctor’s surprise, Rich can barely move his left leg in response to pain. There is no voluntary movement of his face, head, neck, arms. He can feel pain, and he was very able to answer all of the doctor’s questions. The doctor then explained to Rich what the MRI and other tests had revealed about his stroke; which parts of the brainÂ were damaged, that the damage was due to loss of oxygen, meaning that neurons are dead – and dead neurons do not regenerate. She went on to explain what locked in syndrome is and how in his case, he can at least communicate with his eyes. She didn’t really say there were options. She said that if he was left on the respirator, after a few weeks, there would be a good chance he could breathe on his own.
Life like that would mean being cared for in this condition, until he died, perhaps of heart failure or an infection. She stressed that she is not God, but that based on what they understand, this is how it looked. He will not regain any other significant function. The alternative she offered is to take him off the respirator now, or whenever he asks, but the sooner the better, and to make sure that he is very comfortable. If he can still breathe, care would be on a hospice level to make him as comfortable as possible until he died. The question, do you want taken off the respirator now?
Even I was not prepared for that. No one had told me that would be the option being offered. I was under the impression they were going to try to wean him off the respirator. Not offer to take him off now and see what happens.
She asked Rich what he wanted. He clearly indicated he wants taken off the respirator. The doctor asked a series of questions to find out when. When is after he has had a chance to say good bye to all of his family, and we have had a chance to be with him, talk with him, and say goodbye. There is family coming up from New Jersey to see Rich on Monday… so Rich wants to wait at least until then.
All of us were quite taken by surprise. His brother was understandably upset and had the guts to ask the questions no one else did. Yet at the same time, it is allowing everything to take its natural course. And when they remove the respirator, he just may breathe on his own. I have only known Rich for three years. In that time, I know how much he hates drugs, medications, hospitals, and striving to extend life at all costs when it is clearly time to let go. I also know that with all his heart, he believes that if he is supposed to live, he will, and nothing can change that. As is written in Psalm 139:16…
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
It doesn’t say some, or part, but all. Still, this is a lot to take in. I know my husband longs to be with His Lord. He does not want to live like this. And we cannot live in the ICU for the rest of our lives. I found out later that if he did chose to remain on the respirator, that option could lead to him being placed in an institute in Detroit or out of state. There are very few beds for respirator patients in Michigan. The doctor had not told Rich that part… but I know he would have found that impossible….
Pray for our children and his brothers and sister. This has been very hard on all of them. Yet I am thankful that we have time to talk with Rich and to have valuable time with him. Pray for God to give grace and strength to Rich’s children… this is a dark vale for them, and while I can pray, encourage, and love them, each one must pass it alone.
I will keep you advised as we see how things go.