FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

DNR

It’s been over two hours since I emailed one of my sons with the subject line:  Seriously, I’m getting a tattoo.  I’ve heard nothing from him.

Of course, my mother will speak from her urn, in an attempt to dissuade.  She stalks, you know.  But if she says “unladylike” or “tacky,” I’ll be at the tattoo parlor before her cremains calm from the swirl of disapproval.

I never considered a tattoo until I read an article that included a link to an essay, “How Doctors Die.”  Both the article and the essay address end-of-life issues. I learned that some physicians wear DNR or NO CODE medallions.  The essay’s author, Dr. Ken Murray, even has a colleague with a NO CODE tattoo.

What a great idea.

Question is:  Where on my body?  Chest would be obvious, obviously.

My other son called.  I told him, saying “DNR, Do Not Resuscitate.”  He laughed and asked where.  When I said chest, he told me it would really hurt. I won’t elaborate on his elaboration.  Suffice it to say that when he recounted his personal experience, I mocked, “You sound like a little girl.”

I’m thinking forehead.  Less sensitive and certainly a conspicuous site.  Location’s necessary for a decision this important.

We took care of our mother during her starvation after she was told she needed frequent blood transfusions and wasn’t a candidate for surgery.  She said she was in no pain, but we were, making numerous calls to Hospice as we wondered and waited.  Her living/dying was extended because paramedics gave her two IV bags of fluids. Had she been conscious in route to the emergency room, she’d have refused these.

If someone calls 911 for a person who is not breathing, paramedics perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). I know this. I called 9ll when I entered the bedroom and found my husband unresponsive. Even though he’d told me he never wanted to be admitted to the hospital again (and he was a physician).  The paramedics asked me to leave the room.  I said, “He would not want this.  Would not want resuscitation.”  He’d told me many times that if I ever found him unconscious I should do nothing.

We’d watched a movie together a few months before his death.  The Sea Inside is based on the true story of Ramon Sampredo, paralyzed after a swimming accident. Sampredo spent 30 years trying to convince his family and the Spanish legal system of his right to die.  “I want to die because for me, living like this… is not worthy,” he said.

And: “The person who really loves me will be the one who helps me die.”

After we watched the movie, my husband said repeatedly to me, “The person who really loves me will be the one who helps me die.” I did.  I gave him permission.  By assuring him that I would survive, that I would be okay.

I was emphatic with the emergency responders in voicing opposition to CPR.  And I don’t know if they tried. Because, at their insistence, I did leave the room, and I also left the planet, wandering in an out of reality for more than two years.  I periodically dissociated, watching this person (me) from some point in a room as if I were observing someone else’s life.  It could not be mine.

Death is a birth, I once was told.  No, death is a death, and it is cruel.  Unless it is swift and painless.  But for those who witness the suffering, the diminishing, and, then, live the loss, it is brutal.

Each of us needs to consider our options long before a diagnosis descends. Advance directives are significant.

Whatever is decided, we must be clear with family and friends. There can be no ambiguity.

And in the meantime, don’t let life become a habit.  Examine why you’re here.  Question the purpose of your existence.  Live and love, fully.  And participate passionately as a citizen of the world.  Until the DNR tattoo or medallion is honored.

Missy Beattie is a member of Compassion and Choices.  She can be reached at missybeat@gmail.com

 

 

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

January 21, 2019
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail