* * Anonymous Doc

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Excuse me, doctor. I just wanted to know if you think it would make sense for me to schedule my mother's funeral for next Tuesday. You know, I want to order some food, have to tell the relatives. I just wanted to get a sense of the timeline."

"Um, your mother's still alive."

"Oh, I know, but she's clearly declining."

"She's obviously not in great shape, but she's still alive."

"She's 95, she's going downhill very quickly."

"She's stable right now. There is nothing that is actively killing her. I can't tell you how much longer she's going to live, but I see no reason to think we're looking at hours or days right now."

"She has no mental function."

"We just had a lovely conversation. She's in terrific spirits. She has the mental status of a demented person. Her responses make sense, she's comprehending what people are saying."

"She doesn't even look at me."

"She looks at everyone else. I think she is choosing not to look at you."

"That's ridiculous."

"You're trying to plan her funeral while she's still alive. I feel like perhaps she's not that excited to try and rouse herself to have a conversation with you."

"She doesn't even know where she is."

"She just paged the nurse and asked for more water."

"It was a reflex. She's dying."

"She's 95 years old, she had a stroke, she's not in great shape. But she's comfortable, she's stable, she's smiling-- this is not someone who seems to imminently be dying. I see dying people every day here. She is not a patient I have reason to be highly concerned about right now, as far as whether she will make it until tomorrow."

"But I need to know when to tell everyone the funeral is."

"I think you need to take a step back and stop worrying about the funeral until your mother actually passes away."

"But I want to know if there's anything we can do to make a clearer timeline. I've missed a number of days of work for this."

"Again, she's still alive. I'm sorry you've had to miss work. I don't have another answer for you. We're not going to kill her for your convenience."

"I'm not asking you to kill her. I just wonder if there's a way to end her suffering peacefully, on a schedule."

"Sir, she doesn't seem to be suffering. She's smiling, she's eating."

"She's not eating much."

"She's 95 years old, and in a hospital bed. She doesn't need that much food."

"There's nothing you can do?"

"There's nothing we're trying to do. She's stable right now. The natural course of things will happen, at their own pace. I can't tell you if she has days, or weeks, or months."

"She doesn't have months."

"There's no evidence to support that."

"Look at her. Put her out of her misery."

"She's laughing. She and the nurse are laughing. She seems to be doing okay, fortunately. You should spend some time with her."

"I need to make the arrangements."

"I think maybe you should come back tomorrow."

"Will she be dead by then?"

"I hope not."

"You people are ridiculous."


  1. Let me guess... mom and daughter didn't have the most functional relationship?

    Toxic mothers, toxic daughters.


  2. I hope you documented that conversation from 16 different directions backwards and forwards and told the nurses to be sure not to leave the family member alone in the room with their mother and a pillow.

    wv = inowd as in "inowd that was a bad idea as soon as I heard it."

  3. I wonder if you could get a 48-hour psych hold for the kid because you fear that are undergoing a psychotic break and may cause bodily harm to another as a result of the recent adverse medical events relating to a parent. That would make everything even more interesting.