When I take on a patient case after receiving a referral; I view the chart. I view progress notes. I view their terminal illness. I make sure I know some background information before I proceed to contact the patient. Although, nothing can prepare me enough for how the conversation will go or what questions they may have for me, so I tend to be on edge.
When I make the call, I try to sound as calm as possible. I take extra precautions not to sound too overly excited or bubbly when I am calling a person to speak about the end of their life. I keep a cool tone, not unsympathetic, but monotone enough to not come off as if they have a disability because of their current health status.
I always ask my patients how they feel for that day, and most of the times I get “oh, I have good days and bad days. Today i am okay.” “Okay?! Your about to DIE! WTF!” I, of course, do not say that. I proceed with asking them what made them take this option, how they learned about the end-of-life option and most patients’ reply that they no longer enjoy the quality of life and that they’re in debilitating pain most of their days. “So, you decided to take your life?! What kind of shit is that?! Pray! Breath, do something other than kill yourself! WTF!” I, of course, do not say this. I then continue the conversation with an introduction to the program.
The one question that I fear, a question that has a lot to do with my unease, a question that I hope NEVER to be asked is: “If you were in my position, would you take this option?” “How about… HELL NO.” I, of course, could not say that.
The reality of it is this; I can hardly prepare for the next hour of my life- let alone the END OF MY LIFE. In my right mind, I am absolutely going to fight grit and teeth to the very last second if I knew the date that my life would be ending- I would do everything on my bucket list and try to make up for every sin that I can remember doing, and pass away naturally. However, in my left mind- I do not know what decision I would make if I were in a situation such as this. I look back on all the days that my anxiety was severe and my depression had gotten me to a complete breaking point to where I felt that I no longer enjoyed life, and my days were no longer filled with happiness. I felt as if I was dying being alive.
“Identify the filters in which you view the world.” -Google
Thus, in every random “HELL NO” and “WTF” comment or question that pops up in my mind, I can never judge a person for the decisions that they make nor could I ever prepare for the last moments of my life. I cannot say that I believe in this cause, educate people on this cause, and fight for this cause, and then say that I would never choose this option if I were in their shoes (gosh! I hope I am never in their shoes). I can never say that someone is “crazy” for making a decision when I could easily be faced with the same decision (gosh! I hope I am never faced with the same decision).
I now begin to use this attitude, the attitude of not judging based on an occurrence that I have never been faced with before in many things I do in life. I am no longer quick to be dismissive; rather that be an event, a situation, or my grandmothers jar of pig feet (gosh! I hope she never ask me to taste those pig feet), without having ever been through it or have experienced it.
When the day comes and I am finally asked the big scary question, I am going to reply with a mind free of “HELL NO’s and “WTFs” and say, “I do not know what I would do if I was faced with a situation such as this.”
Gosh! I hope I am never asked this question.