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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do you want to kill my mother?

“Hello?” A man answered the phone. 

“Mr. Myers?” I asked. 

“Speaking,” he said, in a curt tone.  

“This is Doris, the social worker. I’d like to set up a care plan meeting so we can discuss your mother’s medical changes” 

“Again?” Mr. Myers queried in an explosive tone of voice. “I already got a phone call from a nurse telling me that my mother is getting worse, and that she needs to be on hospice. What’s the deal with you all? Haven’t you read her Advance Directives? This is unacceptable. Do you want to kill my mother? Is it what you all want?” Mr Myers screamed, as he hung up the phone. 

I was astonished. Not so much with his poor acceptance of his mother’s condition as I was with his questions. “Haven’t you read her Advance Directives?” echoed in my mind. 
To me, that was a bizarre question. An Advance Directive is the document that reflects one’s wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life. Most of the Advance Directives I had read gave clear instruction of what medical procedures were to be “withheld.”   

What did I miss? I pondered.  

Mr. Myers’ mother, Daisy, was a resident, with a very poor medical prognosis. She needed total care. She was confined to a wheelchair. She was non-verbal. Her eyes were normally closed, even during meal time. She needed to be fed by the staff and only ate small bites with much encouragement.  

But now Daisy was not eating at all. She had become more lethargic. Her weight loss was significant. In an inter-disciplinary meeting, it was suggested that hospice would be on her best care choice. 

With Mr. Myers’ admonishment still ringing in my ears, I looked for Daisy’s medical chart immediately. I read her Advance Directives and living will carefully. It was a thick document brimming with legalese.  

“Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed. I hadn’t noticed the “not” word that changed the whole context of the living will: “..not  to be withheld.” 

The following day, Mr. Myers came to the facility and dropped a five-page letter to the nursing home administrator on the receptionist’s desk. It was a very hostile letter, questioning our phone calls and the interpretation of his mother’s Advance Directives. He had sent copy of the letter to state offices and other overseeing institutions.  

I panicked. My worries grew as I thought of the consequences of misreading the document and making the wrong phone call.  

But I also wondered why Mr. Myers had overreacted. He could have simply declined the option of hospice, and educated us about the content of her living will. 

Our corporate legal office followed with its own investigation and sent a response to Mr. Myers. In the meantime, Daisy continued getting worse, and had to be sent to the hospital. Sadly, Daisy spent her 87th birthday in the ICU where she remained for a couple of weeks, on a ventilator, tube fed and on IV fluids. 

Until the Lord had mercy and took her to heaven.  

Weeks later, a well-dressed and polite lady came to my office. She introduced herself as Lois, Daisy’s daughter. I was taken by surprise because I never knew about her. “I live out of State, and my brother didn’t let me get involved in any issues regarding our mother.” She said. “I know all about my brother causing trouble. My sister-in-law told me. I am really sorry for you all having to put up with my brother’s behavior.” 

Lois explained that her brother had lived in their mother’s home for many years. Daisy had set up a trust which provided that her assets were to be equally divided between the two children after her death. Somehow, Mr. Myers had convinced his mother to sign an Advance Directive with instructions to extend her life. A living will that appeared to merely reflect the son’s wishes. 
And certainly his greed. 
"Wow!" I mused, and sighed. 

I felt some peace of mind in learning the truth that fired Mr. Myers’ reaction to our concerns for his mother’s care. I hoped that someday he got on his knees and asked for forgiveness. 

And for the Lord to have mercy. 


Karin said...

Working in a long-term care centre for the past 24 years, I do relate to this story. I wish I had written them down - I think there is enough material for a book a year, lol!

Oh God have mercy is all one can say!

MTJ said...

Hi Doris,

Something similar happened after my mother-in-law died last May. One of my wife's sisters gained power of attorney and it created problems both before and after the death. These acts usually revolve around money but the truth is that, no matter the amount, it is never worth the cost of creating disfunction.

Instances like this indicate the need for a change of heart; let's pray it happens.

Blessings and peace.


Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Delores,

Guess, the older we get the more we will run into things like you just wrote about. One cannot imagine how cold-hearted certain people turn out to be... There are no words and no deeds that can stand up against them. Indeed: Lord have Mercy!
Have a look at the past three days' blog I wrote about some personal info; the home and our felines...

Lots of love from Georgia,


Just Be Real said...

I agree with your other readers here with money be related and the older we get we will run into these kinds of situations. Informational post. Keeps one thinking. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

Fran said...

I have just discovered your blog - all I can say is wow and thanks be to God.

I will be back. Thanks for sharing what you have and thanks for being who you are in the world, a light.

Nicole said...

Oh my goodness! How sad. I like the line where you wrote that God had mercy on her and took her. Isn't that just like the grace of God? I work in a bank so I can relate to your story. Some people can not see past the greed in their heart. How very sad! By the way, I like the way you retold the incident. I felt like I was there and reliving it with you, just like I did when you went on your vacation.

Anne Gallagher said...

Yes, May God have mercy. That poor woman.

maría cecilia said...

Hola Doris, you do a wonderful work.
maria cecilia

Claus said...

What a story! And what a case! I couldn't help but think how many similar cases must exist around the globe. How sad. Can money really turn people into such strangers? I've seen it in movies, but I certainly hope never to experience it anywhere near me. God bless you for being there for these people when no one is.

SY said...

This story is very sad. The power that money has to cause evil behavior

डा0 हेमंत कुमार ♠ Dr Hemant Kumar said...

Respected Mam,
It's really a story of every society----and not of only society but i can say it a story of many faimlies---and you had well presented it.thanks for sharing it.

Amrita said...

My goodness, Doris you really have to deal with a lot

Brian R said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog. I do admire people who work with the aged and family differences must cause many problems. I am thankful that during my mother's long last illness, my sister, who was her chief carer, and I were at one in all decisions and our support of one another since has reflected our mother's love for us.

Crown of Beauty said...

Dear Doris
Thank you for your visit to my blog and the comment as well.

I read around here a bit and enjoyed reading the stories you have written.

Will visit you again for sure!


Terri Tiffany said...

What is wonderful here is she took the time to come and speak to you--she didn't have to at all. Blessings to her:)

Padraic Murray said...

Doris, you seem to be infinitely patient. I find it difficult to be nice to people as disappointing as the son in your story. It would be wonderful if he changed his ways. It is extremely unlikely but then that is what miracles are all about! Peace to you and your family. Padraic.

Arlee Bird said...

It's said when helpless elderly become pawns in the power struggles among siblings and others. I do not envy any one who has to be caught in the middle of such situations.

Tossing It Out

Libby said...

doris, i love the way you write, you bring all the people to life, & that, my dear, is a gift! i'm in the middle of an ms relapse, but am fortunate (?) enough to be well enough to be in a wheelchair(motorized), and i'm getting home heath care nurses coming to my apt for the next 3 days to administer iv steroids, & the one that was here today spoke to me sternly about talking to our hospital's social worker & doing my living will & advance directives...she even called me after my iv's & reminded me!! & she's making the social worker call me monday. i'm blessed to live in a town with so many good helpful people!

Michele said...

my mother never left a will when she passed. she left it up to my daughter to see to it that her wishes regarding her property were fulfilled. one thing she did make clear to all those around her was that if she was to be unconscious, and unable to speak for herself, that they had to recusitate her which they did. so thankfully they honored that part of her wishes. she did pas even though they tried to revive her. God knew mom was suffering badly near the end of her life, so in all His infinite mercy, He took her to heaven. but it would have been nice if she had a written will. this is why i make it clear legally in my will what i want done if something should happen to me. we all need a will. even if we don't have anything we still need a will.

Haddock said...

Thought provoking.
The ultimate aim of some short sighted people make them blind.

Anonymous said...

Makes me wonder what ulterior motives are behind all anger? Being angry solves nothing, but it may inadvertently put up red lights about what's really going on. A valuable lesson learned from this post, I think.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Isn't it terrible what greed does to some people?

Cheryl said...

Such a sad story...one wonders what makes some people so greedy. I think it was nice that the daughter stopped by and let you know what motivated the son.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, those are tough situations!!!

Warren Baldwin said...

Social Workers deal with some of the toughest situations. My wife was one for years in a state system for the mentally handicapped. Some of what she saw and dealt with is astonishing.

You have to develop some thick skin over time, don't you? Glad there are social workers dedicated to the work they do.

Sr Crystal Mary Lindsey said...

What a heartless man, one wonders??
I pray he does get on his knees..
There is a story about an old Chinese man. His son decided he was too old to keep, so putting him into a wheelbarrow he began to push him up a mountain to leave him there. The man's son asked to go along. On the way the man asked his son why he wanted to go with him. The answer was, "So I will know where to take you when your time comes."

Can you guess...the man returned his father back to the family home to outlive his days.
God Bless CML

notesfromnadir said...

This is so sad to read. You wrote that right when you mentioned that she spent her 87th birthday in ICU. She certainly didn't celebrate it.

I hope that the man comes to some sort of realization...