Life is fragile

Carol Bradley Bursack wrote an article in entitled Elder Care Needs Can Change in an Instant. She gave several good examples from her own (multiple) caregiving situations, as well as a list of suggestions to be prepared for situations that arise. I commented by reporting a story about what happened to one of my “caregiver responders” in “What to Do about Mama?”

Life is so fragile. One of the caregiver responders in my book (see Katie’s Story “What to Do about Mama?” p.170) was caregiver for her mother and mother-in-law in her home during two different timeframes. She had brain surgery for an aneurism in December 2013. Like your uncle, the surgery went wrong, and she had surgery again the next day to relieve the pressure on her brain. She was in a coma for 6 weeks. She now has the use of only one limb–her right arm–and lives in a nursing home facility. She’s only 65-years old. This vivacious and giving woman is now locked in her body and generally confined to her environment. Her life was irrevocably changed the instant her surgeon punctured the blood vessel in her brain. Frankly, I would prefer to die of a burst aneurism than to live as she is living. But that is a value judgment we must all make for ourselves. Although she and her husband considered that she might die during surgery, they did not consider the option that she might live impaired. Sad. Tragic. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the breadth of what happened to “Katie.”

Barbara Matthews