A week ago today I had to make the difficult decision to have my brother removed from life support. He had gone into cardiac arrest a few days before. They worked on him for 30 minutes and brought him back. He had heart damage, a huge hematoma on his brain and was experiencing liver and kidney failure. There was no hope for recovery.
I had carried a picture of my brother, in my bible, for many years. A few years back my sister Sharon and I did DNA and we were able to find him. He was a nice guy with the gift of gab and many great stories to tell. His adoptive parents had been wonderful and he had two sisters who were also adopted. Unfortunately my brother also had a dark side. He was an addict who struggled with drugs and mental illness. After a while it was necessary to set up boundaries. Sharon and I have always kept in touch with him but were not able to spend a lot of time with him.
The last week has been a crazy one for my sister and I. We tried to find any paperwork that could help with decision making. Wills, DNR’s or health care proxy. He lived at the knights Inn in Endwell so he only had a room. We found nothing we were looking for. What we did find was a sad living situation. It was heartbreaking to see how he had been living.
Finally they called his primary and she had me listed as an emergency contact. Then I went to the hospital and I went through his personal items and found his health care proxy in his wallet. He had me listed as his proxy. I talked to his sister in Arizona and let her know. All decisions were made with her on speaker phone. First with the ICU team and then with palliative care.
When they removed him from all medical assistance , they allowed my sister Shron to be in the room. He continued to breath on his own. Sharon and I stayed until the evening then headed home. I expected a phone call during the night. The next day we went back and because he was continuing to breath on his own they would not allow Sharon and I in the room together. It was a different Nurse manager that day. I cannot say anything nice about her so I will not say anything more. I took Sharon home and went back to the hospital because there were more decisions to be made. They were going to move him to a different floor and Lourdes hospice was going to evaluate him the next morning.
I had a nice conversation with his attending nurse. We talked about mental illness and addiction and she understood both. She sent the aids in to reposition him and when they left his breathing started to slow down. Within the half hour he passed away. So there we were just my brother and I. He had trusted me with his life.
I am glad his struggle is over. I am glad he does not have to go back to the Knights Inn. The moment he passed he opened his eyes, He took a breath and then closed his eyes and he was gone. I believe he knew I was there and I also believe he was looking at Jesus.
Rest in peace my little brother.