Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Doctors forced my grandpa to die

My grandpa passed away on May 27th.

He went to St. Paul's Hospital on May 6th for his regular dialysis and stayed overnight for his bypass in his leg the next day, and then stayed to recover after surgery. He was out of it after the operation which was normal, given that he never reacts well to drugs. I kept him company at the hospital everyday and a few days later, he seemed to be doing better, but was very tired.

Then on May 20th, he didn't want to go for dialysis because he said he was too tired. We all wanted to respect his decision, so he was brought back to his room. However, when I went to see him the next day, he was very alert and eating a lot! He asked me when he was going for dialysis...we let the nurse know, who said she will tell a doctor. Dr. D came by for a minute later on in the day, and scheduled a family meeting for early Saturday morning, May 22nd.

Everyone went to the meeting. The Dr. D asked us if we knew his condition - that he only had 2 weeks to live, 2 to 4 if he goes back on dialysis. However, Dr. J had said 6 months, maybe 1 month if it's bad (I didn't say she said this though). The problem is, they don't know how strong a man my grandpa is. He always seems to be at the brink of death, but jumps right back after some dialysis. The doctors always say he's dying, but it's only because they pump him full of drugs that make him drowsy and non-responsive. Plus he said it normally takes a healthy person 2 to 4 weeks to get better from a bypass. But it had only been TWO weeks for a 92 year old man, so of course he hasn't completely gotten better yet!!! Geez. Anyway, my uncle basically chewed Dr. D out about how the government doesn't want to pay for treatment of an old man etc. We were asking them to at least give grandpa one more dialysis treatment so that there would be time for out of town family members to arrive to see him one last time. Dr. D then said he wanted to do a blood test to see how his potassium levels were first. Later on in the afternoon, called and said his potassium levels were fine, so they were withholding dialysis again. Then he changed his story and said grandpa only had 2 weeks to live, regardless of dialysis.

So the next morning, we all went to the hospital very early again, hoping to talk to Dr. D and change his mind about the dialysis. But Dr. D never came. Instead, they sent Dr. F. She basically told us no, they are not going to give him dialysis anymore because grandpa isn't going to get better. I asked them not to give him so much hydromorphone shots, which basically is what is going to kill him (And as if I didn't know before, I overheard nurses joking and talking about it outside grandpa's room, about how hydromorphone is the shots they give patients to kill them. Talk about being insensitive! If you're going to talk about that stuff, go somewhere where patients aren't dying!). Anyway, my aunts didn't want to tell grandpa he was dying - but mum didn't want to lie. So we got the doctor to tell grandpa his situation. He accepted it because he always listens to what the doctor says.

So the next few days, I went to the hospital with a heavy heart, knowing my grandpa's days were numbered. It wasn't going to be long before the toxins in his body builds up, and the hydromorphone shots also build up and his body couldn't take it anymore. Grandpa passed peacefully surrounded by his family.

My mum, sister and I are still bitter about the doctor's decisions. Because when it comes down to it, it's all about money. The government doesn't have enough money to pay for all these seniors going for dialysis, so they weren't going to give it anymore. Over 80, 90? Too bad. Palliative care was all full because people were dying, and there were other seniors in the Renal unit that were also dying because dialysis was withheld. It's an unspoken fact that they don't want to pay for dialysis for old people when there were many younger healthier people that could benefit from it. They know, and we know. Would my grandpa have gotten better if they continued his dialysis? Of course! He kept saying he's getting better and has to go back to the care home, and that we could go for dim sum. And that breaks my heart. Because the doctors forced him to die.

It kind of makes you think twice about the heath care system and it's doctors doesn't it? That they could do such a thing. They look at it in an economical point of view and not a personal and emotional one. But of course, that's what doctors do. Don't get attached to the patient. I still get upset when I think about it. How my grandpa would still be with us if it wasn't for those doctors.

But what's done is done, and we can only hope that we all stay healthy so that something like this doesn't happen to us when we're old. I pray that my grandpa is happy and is in a better place.


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