DNAR

DNAR = “Do not attempt resuscitation”.

Increasingly, doctors are issuing these orders for patients who are suffering from untreatable conditions. Speaking personally, I am in favour of such orders, as long as they are realistic, kind, and in good faith.

With great age comes great weakness. Serious illness/trauma/surgery triggers bodily reactions equivalent to running a marathon for 72 hours or more. Failure to complete that marathon leads to death.

Most of my patients are elderly, and many of them are not in great health to start with. I do the best that I can for them, but still some develop complications, and some die. I am not a miracle worker.

I am left talking to their relatives, trying to impart the truth about their beloved’s death. Most of the time, they believe my honest spiel. Others cannot accept. I await their wrath in the courts.

About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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8 Responses to DNAR

  1. ginnyfree says:

    Sound’s good but in reality there will be abuses. There are already. It is a way of preventing legal measures after the fact. If on file, then gobs and gobs of money will be saved. It scares me personally because I am disabled. There may come a time, (probably will) when I will be dependant on machines for my sustenance. I will be alive in an ever increasingly more debilitated body. It is the Cross I have been given by my merciful Savior. I accept that. However, I would like to be assured of a Catholic death, not a convenient death. I intend to use my increasing debilitation to purge myself and my immediate family members of sins. If this process is cut short by some idiot doctor’s decision, I, my family and ultimately my Christian Community, whether here or in Purgatory, will be cheated out of measures that can only be obtained by such means as Redemptive Suffering. It isn’t a medical decision. It is an embrace of my Cross and my right to live my religion unencumbered by anyone else, doctors, nurses, aides, and legislators. I really don’t want to have to search for a place that will allow me to live out my religion as I lay dying, but if the signs of the times are telling, those places are becoming fewer and further between. I will NOT be a “DNAR.” I will be a faithful Catholic. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  2. Tom Fisher says:

    Speaking personally, I am in favour of such orders, as long as they are realistic, kind, and in good faith.

    I tend to agree with Brother Burrito, but Ginnyfree is right that there is a danger of abuses, and I think her comment is very moving and gives us lots to think about.

  3. Brother Burrito says:

    Ginny’s comment is very moving, and I agree that abuses are possible. Perhaps abuses would be less likely if more good Catholics became doctors?

    I only agree to a DNAR when I am certain there is no hope of recovery, and the torturousness of further futile intensive care cannot be justified. I also endeavour to get the relatives’ and nurses’agreement.

  4. ginnyfree says:

    Hello Brother Burrito. I have a terminal condition that will require mechanical assistance at the end of my life. There is no cure so to some, it is futile, the word you use. Nothing can be reversed but my life can be extended. It will remain MY decision to stop using a ventilator and I will most like need one unless of course, something opportunistic decides to happen. But I don’t want ANYONE to take my decision from me. Good Lord, do you realize what you are already agreeing to when you negate the patient in favor of relatives and nurses? It is one thing when someone has a traumatic brain injury or stroke and is suddenly dependant on life support, but for those of us with long term needs, it isn’t that cut and dried. I want to live as long as I can. I will not be able to fight for my right to live at the end of my life, so if some activist nurse decides that ending my life is ending my suffering and helpful to all those around me, her personal opinion is going to influence how she relates to my family and she will try to get them to see it her way. Hello?!?!?? It already happens. And to most who don’t share our Catholic views about suffering having value, (Hell, there are Catholics who don’t get this at all these days!) I will be totally useless and a burden and it will cost tons of money and since there is no cure, the best thing is to end my suffering…………….see how easy it is to go down the slippery slope to assisted suicide as a medical treatment for terminal illnesses? And if a DNAR is on file anywhere, then it is PROOF the PATIENT DOESN’T WANT TO LIVE. It clears the way for a “shot” no questions asked. Most folks don’t think it out that far, but it will cover the possibility of legal problems if assistance is given. Yeah. I DO think about these things and they aren’t happy thoughts I’m afraid. God bless. Ginnyfree.

    P.S. Please pray for me. Thanks. I don’t like talking about my disability. Ouch.

  5. Gertrude says:

    Very well said Ginny. My prayers are with you. So few really understand that suffering really can be redemptive. God bless.

  6. Brother Burrito says:

    Hi Ginny, sorry for taking so long to reply. I practise in the UK under a socialised medicine regime, the NHS. For some time now, the service has been creaking under the strain resulting from its own success.

    Resources are at an all time low. Hard decisions have to be made in real time on the balance of probabilities. Thus, an ITU bed filled by someone with a hopeless prognosis may suddenly be needed by an acutely sick child with their whole life ahead of them, if they can be coaxed back to health. Whose life should I save?

    These are not easy decisions to make, and I know I will be held responsible by God for each one. I base my decisions on 30 years experience as a doctor which is not inconsiderable.

    What I can tell you for sure is that if a patient asks me to pull out all the stops, and never give up, then I comply with their wish. If they are not conscious enough to decide for themselves, then I have to make the decision.

    Please pray for me and my patients too. Thank you.

  7. ginnyfree says:

    Hello Brother Buritto. Thank you for the consideration. I will pray for you and your patients. As a Catholic I do not ask for a special consideration, but Catholic consideration. End of life decisions can not be boiled down to a one-size-fits-all sweater. Persons who are Jewish need Jewish arrangements and consideration. Persons who are Muslim need Muslim arrangements and Muslim consideration. Persons who are Baptist need Baptist arrangements and considerations. Persons who are Jehovah Witnesses need JW arrangements and considerations. It is ethically wrong the take away everyone’s right to their religious preference at the end of their lives in favor of an economic policy that disregards everyone’s religious needs simply because there is no money in the budget to prolong life so the Rabbi can get there in time. It is a very sad thing that medicine will be taking strides back into a day and age when only the wealthy had access to descent medical care but it seems when money talks…..you know the rest of that little statement. I won’t be needing an ITU or as we call it here an ICU. My needs will probably be met by a nursing care facility set up for long term care. I will not say however, if I did need an ICU bed at the local hospital and there was only one that I’d give up my chance for three more months with my children in favor of another patient who was say, 13 and had a whole lifetime ahead of her IF her stay in the ICU was favorable. I will not be talked into “sacrificing” my life for anyone except Jesus Himself. I don’t think they do that here in Catholic hospitals and would probably know if beds are available long before they accept the admission of a seriously ill child. They’d know exactly how many beds in the ICU are available and can turn a regular room into a make-shift ICU very easily with the portable machines. If the child was in transport from say a car-crash site or home they’d divert the ambulance to a place where a bed was available. They wouldn’t start emptying out the ICU of their terminal patients to make room for the child. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  8. ginnyfree says:

    Hello again Brother Burrito. I was thinking about what you said about the hard decisions you have to make over there in the UK because of the plain economics of health care as yesterday I went to see my doctors and today I’m off to the hospital for some tests that will take a little time. I see alot of them these days. I thought of this when I was on my way home yesterday about what you said regarding the economics of caring for the terminally ill and if I thought one of my doctors had pre-determined that my life was less valuable than anyone else’s and I found out about it, I’d have to get rid of that particular doctor. I am a pro-lifer and no one life has more value than another, ever. It is a non-negotiable issue. I cannot have a doctor who has one ethic in the board room to please the administration and another when he sees patients or one who changes his or her ethic when the wind blows in another direction. My life has the exact same value and any one else’s in the sight of God and as a Christian, I cannot have any other ethic than that to guide me. It disturbed me that you said you have to make the tough decisions about end of life issues where you have privileges in hospital. I don’t think I could live with that at all and would probably just quit cause I’m that kinda gal. If any one on the job demanded un-ethical behavior from me no matter what the job is, I’d find other means of supporting myself. In fact, prior to being a disabled person, I did do exactly that. It was actually rather easy. The call to follow Christ means in all circumstances in season and out of season and we are increasingly out of season these days, but we will as always weather the storm. There was a nice doctor on EWTN Sunday evening who actually quit working in one place and became a pro-life OB/GYN in another place right after reading Humanae Vitae of Paul VI. His exact words were “I was convicted” and he made some changes in his life accordingly. Surprisingly the practice where he is seeing patients is prospering as a pro-life place for women as some of us are greatly relieved in knowing this in an OB/GYN. It is marvelous. There needs to be many, many more like him all over the world. God bless. Ginnyfree.

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