Friday, June 10, 2005

Your Truth: In-patient Mourners

Here is another scenario. As a reminer, this is a fictionalized scenario meant to inspire discussion. I am providing a scenario and would like to hear how you would respond to it.

The patient is an 80-something male. He has end-stage liver disease. Two weeks ago, the doctors told his wife that he had only a few days left to live. The wife has been standing vigil at the patient's bedside, waiting for him to die. The doctor's prognosis was a little premature. The patient looks like he could live for another few weeks to a month.

The patient is alert and is able to respond to yes or no questions by nodding his head. He speaks very rarely, but when he does, he makes perfect sense. he still drinks lots of water and will sip on an occasional milkshake.

As you walk in the room, you hear the wife shouting at your patient, "Go! Just go! Why won't you die?"

In front of the patient, the wife turns to you and loudly says, "He is being so selfish! All of his children and grandchildren have cancelled their plans because they're waiting for him to die. But he just won't go! I would never do this to my family. Why won't he die?"

How do you respond? Hint: answer first, what do you think the wife might be feeling?

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