I apologise in advance for the overly ‘ranty’ nature of this post, but I really feel the need to get this off my chest. It irritates me immensely and in fact I find it inherently offensive that, once again, I have been asked about Little H’s resuscitation status. For those not familiar with the term, it basically means “If your son stops breathing, would you like us to help him out or shall we just leave him to it and wait for him to die?”
Pretty offensive right?
Now, I can understand why such things do need to be discussed. Imagine a terminally ill patient at the end stages of cancer, for example. But I struggle to see how this is relevant to Little H. He is a happy, smiley, mostly-healthy little boy. But on at least four occasions I have had to justify his right to live. I am 33 (for at least another week anyway) and my resuscitation status has never been called in to question. If I collapsed in Tesco, it is a given that the emergency services would do their utmost to save me. Why is the same consideration not given to my son?
Is it because at nearly two and a half, developmentally he is still like a new born baby? Is it because he regularly stops breathing during seizures and needs to be resuscitated? Is it because his condition is life limiting as well as life threatening and that he is not expected to reach adulthood? I’m not sure. Probably a combination of the last two I expect. I sincerely hope that simply being developmentally delayed isn’t significant enough reason to question his right to life – this isn’t Nazi Germany after all.
I referred in a previous post to a Doctor, who didn’t know Little H, who gave us a whole “Quality versus Quantity” of life talk, which basically implied that H had no real quality of life. He has been ill at times, very very ill, but at no point have I felt that his long term quality of life is impaired. My quality of life deteriorates when I am ill; I once spent a week in bed with tonsillitis – should I have been put forward as a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’?
With my sensible head on, I can see that Little H rings a few alarm bells. I can see that everyone involved in his care needs to have a clear plan. I can understand that since he has ‘palliative’ care and attends a hospice, discussions such as this are inevitable. And, although it breaks my heart, I realise too, that there may come a time in the future when this discussion is appropriate, when his quality of life might be such that invasive medical interventions would only add additional pain and suffering for very little gain; that ‘full resuscitation’ might not be in his best interests.
But that time is not now.
Look at him. Look at that smile.
“Do I want him resuscitated?”
How can you ask that question?