I am sitting here at the hospital with Mim (short for memere french for grandma. My father’s mother). Mim is resting, somewhat quietly in a drug induced nap. They give her something to “calm her down” when she starts to get aggressive. Mim had a stroke last Thursday and has been in the hospital since. The first few days she was unresponsive and the last few days she has been physically active. Before the stroke she was a resident at Marjorie Doyle, where she passed each day blissfully ignorant of everything, including the knowledge of who we are and who she is. She thinks a little Filipino lady (one of the nurses at Marjory Doyle) is her father. Mim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 5 years ago and has been regressing ever since. We had to place Mim at Marjory Doyle about a year ago when she became dangerous to both herself and our kids because we couldn’t watch her 24×7 (she lived with us until then).
The stroke appears to have effected her mind more than her body and given the state of her mind before the stroke, any regression is substantial. She has no idea where she is, who she is, what she’s doing or why she’s doing anything. Her body is strong and she wants to walk, most likely to nowhere in particular, just out of the hospital. We of course wont let her walk out of the hospital or even down the hall for that matter without turning her around, which infuriates her. She does know that she doesn’t want to do what anyone else wants her to do, only what she wants to do, however senseless that is. There is no hope of her ever returning to “normal”, or probably even a self preserving state. She will always require someone to keep her from hurting herself and to help her with the basic necessities to sustain life.
I wonder if this is what God intended – no actually I don’t, but if I say what I’m thinking you will think me a heartless, inhumane monster. You of course (you being popular opinion in our infinitely wise modern society) know that life is precious and we should sustain it at all cost. AT ALL COST. Even when it destroys the dignity of the person whose life we are sustaining, even when it obliterates all the good memories their family held of them and even if it is against their will. We are domesticated after all and realize that death is barbaric.
We are scared of death, even those of us who believe in an afterlife – a better place with no pain and suffering – fear death. Death is profoundly painful and we don’t like pain; we try to avoid it at all cost, even if that cost is to another. Think I’m being dramatic?
Consider why we keep Mim alive. There is no hope of her recovering to a life without pain, at least mental pain. She will never be unrestrained and will for the rest of her life fight against that restraint or be drugged to the point where she can’t fight. Left to her own, she probably wouldn’t live more than a couple of days; she would stop eating & drinking or something. Actually, she probably wouldn’t have made it this long. Mim is a believer, when she dies she will go to be with Jesus, this is unquestionably a better place for her. But we can’t allow that.
I find it interesting that when our pet is suffering, we consider it humane to let or even assist them out of their pain – even though they most likely have no soul and will turn into worm food with no eternal hope. Our family however must be kept alive, not allowed to enter into eternal existence, until we can no longer physically keep them here.
I think Moses did it right:
Deuteronomy 34 (NIV)
The Death of Moses
34 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.
I am fairly certain, if allowed, Mim would walk off somewhere until she was too exhausted to walk anymore. She would then simply sit or lay down, probably fall asleep; no one restraining her, no needles stuck in her to keep her hydrated, no one forcing food into her, no more drugs to calm her down – just eternal bliss.
This inhumane lack of care would of course never be allowed in our civilized society. So I will sit here and watch over her to ensure nothing bad happens to her.