Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 57

The Final Choice By Rebecca Burg    Jay’s voice rose with tension. “So, you’re going to give up, Understandably, no one wanted to be associated with the huh?” My partner crossed his arms and glowered at the cessation of my medical regimen, which was equivalent to floor. quitting in their eyes. To quit was to give up. A common misconception is that hospice hastens a patient’s demise. I could feel my jaw muscles bunch, teeth clenching. Since they were not in my shoes, no one realized the extent “Hospice isn’t giving up,” I said. of my misery. A decision had to be made between trying a harsh new drug or palliative care for pain. As the patient, Jay shook his head. “You’re giving up.” the ultimate choice was in my hands.   “You just don’t get it,” I said with a gusty sigh, patience Life and Death evaporating. Wincing as a flash of pain cut through my Biting my lip, I stared at the yellow piece of paper right side, I turned and shuffled out of the room. requiring my signature. The letters D-N-R stared back. Do not resuscitate. Why didn’t my partner understand? Why did being accused of giving up make me so angry? After nearly Hand weak and trembling from neuropathy, I signed three years of brutal treatments for advanced breast on the dotted line. I felt a combination of relief and cancer, my ravaged body couldn’t take it anymore. I had anxiety, glad I was proceeding with what I really wanted zero quality of life and faced incessant pain coupled with yet worried over loved ones’ anticipated reactions. More a dizzying spectrum of infirmities. If I continued this path papers were signed. This was it. I would finally receive the treatments would kill me, not the cancer. Hospice care thorough palliative care while allowing nature to take its was the most sensible action to me. However, my family course. No more debilitating treatments. bluntly opposed the idea. Since I was ambulatory and self-sufficient enough to Since being diagnosed I’d been subjected to seven cook and bathe, I received in-home hospice care. Once different types of chemotherapy drugs, four surgeries, and a week a nurse would visit, and a chaplain and social a cumulative ten weeks of intense radiotherapy. I’d been worker would occasionally stop by to address emotional hospitalized for an infected abscess, and at one point, or spiritual concerns. Help was just a phone call away. required a blood transfusion after my body’s hemoglobin Importantly, the awful tumor pain and associated production was decimated by chemo. I was a crawling, symptoms were mitigated. I could finally relax and focus vomiting, hairless wreck. on making the most out of my remaining life. Despite these vigorous ministrations, the cancer had Seeing the difference and finally accepting the facts, my metastasized to some of my bones, right lung, lymph family’s attitudes shifted. I was relieved when my partner nodes, and soft tissues. Obviously, the treatments weren’t admitted he’d been selfish. He naturally wished to keep working. Bound by his profession’s staunch devotion to me around as long as possible and had erroneously saving lives, the oncologist was unwilling to give me an equated continued medical treatments with prolonged life, expiration date. He wanted to administer yet another forgetting about my acute pain and physical deterioration. medicine. Like the doctor, my family also preferred to Anticipatory grief intensified as loved ones struggled perpetuate life whatever the cost. Treatments gave them to cope with the new course of care. In their eyes hope hope and the idea of hospice took it away. 57