As Christians we believe that one day we will get a free trip to the ultimate dream destination, heaven. Some of us will have quite a bit of notice that our trip is upcoming; others will find their tickets emailed to them the day they are leaving. Of course there are two catches: We've never gotten any tourist guides to heaven so we are relying on less than clear pictures and assurances that we will love it and once we get on that plane, we can never return. Because of that, despite the fact that we say we are looking forward to the trip, most of us do a lot to postpone it.
My Dad has reached a point in life where he is considering his trip. He has congestive heart failure and bladder cancer. He is 85 years old. Put those factors together and let's just say that life insurance would be very hard to get and expensive. He is considering whether he wants to discontinue medical care. For those who aren't Catholic, the Catholic Church's stand on end-of-life care is:
2278. Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.He has been in the hospital for a week. He had a short bout of kidney failure but it seems to have resolved. They found a medication which has gotten most of the excess fluid off of him, and will send him home on it. He is being kept alive by a slew of medicines which reduce his fluid load and stimulate his heart. He is thinking of stopping them, but wants to talk to his pastor first, and his pastor is on vacation. Maybe if he gets feeling better now that the fluid is reduced, he'll change is mind. I don't know. I know the time to say goodbye to him is getting close. Actually, a year ago in October I started going over there on Saturdays to take him to Mass and I didn't think it was going to be a long-term thing then.
When is enough enough? For myself I hope he continues to fight; however, I can tell he is getting tired of it all. His knees hurt. He has no energy. He doesn't sleep well. His mind isn't what it once was. Is it getting to be that time?