Clear thinking and my mother’s living will.

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The world needs people who can interpret complex ideas simply, and sadly, understanding my mother’s living will is the occasion of this lesson for me.

Friday night I was in Spokane with plans to stay at the hotel through midday Saturday so my grandchildren could come swim at the hotel pool. Best laid plans.

At 9PM my wife called informing me that my mother was in intensive care at the hospital and was alive only because invasive measures had been taken. (Photo is of my mother and father in New Zealand in 1985. In light of today’s circumstances the verse in the background is especially meaningful. “let not your heart be troubled…”)

I caught the earliest flight (5:40AM) back to Seattle and found my mother on a ventilator.

Since Friday night we’ve struggled with what is right and best, realizing that her living will excluded what we had already done by placing her on a ventilator.

In 15 years of talk radio I’ve discussed these legal, ethical, moral and medical issues many time, but it took one of our nurses to explain the hospitals options in these complicated matters.

She said to me that as a health care professional they respond in one of three ways to these situations.

1) Full code. This means we will do whatever if takes to save a patient’s life.

2) No code-full medical. This means we will not do ventilation or CPR, but we will administer medications, IV’s, breathing treatments etc.

3) No code comfort care. This means in addition to no CPR and no ventilator, we will not administer medications except those useful in providing comfort to the declining patient.

I must confess, prior to this conversation the distinction between “mechanical” and pharmaceutical” treatment was not clear to me in the past and once explained it made total sense.

Transitioning for a moment to society today and more specifically people of faith who want to explain their faith to others, this conversion of complex to simple is necessary and usually lacking.

American readers often think of C.S. Lewis as an intellectual apologist, but really, he was a communicator who took the complex and explained it more simply, often through the use of story or metaphor.

In “God in the Dock” he described his calling in a way that fits my sense of calling, and I hope that of every follower of Jesus.

“When I began, Christianity came before the great mass of my unbelieving fellow countrymen either in the highly emotional form offered by revivalists or in the unintelligible language of the highly cultured clergymen. Most men were reached by neither. My task was therefore simply that of a translator one turning Christian doctrine, or what he believed to be such, into the vernacular, into language that unscholarly people would attend to and could understand¢â‚¬¦One thing is sure. If the real theologians had tackled this laborious work of translation about a hundred years ago, when they began to lose touch with the people (for whom Christ died), there would have been no place for me.”

Pardon my brief thoughts. I must go back to the hospital, better equipped to contribute to a good decision, because something complex was explained in a way I can understand it.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 31, 2005 by | No Comments »

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