Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability

William Osler.

It’s an insightful well-worded quote.

But man, isn’t it the worst when you’re the family of a beloved patient.

We spent 23 days in the ICU and so much guess work, so many fights and a number of mistakes due to the bold yet cowardly approach medicine prefers to treat problems, left me frustrated one night before my father’s heart started stopping.

They took away my father’s ability to talk and to eat through his mouth because “it’s too risky to test if he breathes on his own because it’s clear by his ridiculously thin body that his lungs won’t be able to push the air out, which would cause the CO2 to build up” so they slice through his neck for a ventilator tube.

“If the machine is saying he’s breathing on his own, why not remove it and see?” I asked the nurse.

Nurse A; “no doctor would do that.”

It’s one story and it doesn’t tell all because my father had at least a ton of other problems at once. Next to him being a dialysis patient.

He had a brain bleed. He had a severe lung infection. He had a stroke. Multiple seizures. Blood sugar was going up and down. He had problems swallowing which caused an aspiration which led to feeding through a tube first through his nose, then one in his stomach. He had a tracheostomy to breathe through his neck. His right hand become blacker and blacker coz the only— or rather “the only” way to control his blood pressure is through Levophed, which I learned later is often referred to as “leave ‘em dead”.

By the end he kept asking when he’s gonna leave. And every day it’s a new heart problem. Blood problem. Consciousness problem, etc… etc.

On the 29th I talked to his doctor and he gave one option; “you gotta move the ICU room to home”

I was adamant on getting an option that helps his mental state. Heart racing? Blood pressure? Yes it could be a physical problem, but his mental state controls those too.

He couldn’t talk, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t eat and he couldn’t breathe. Yet he kept wanting to walk and go back home.

He might have wanted to die because of all the pain at some point, but on the 29th, he wanted to get up and was angry when we kept telling him we can’t help him.

We eventually left him hooked up to the home ventilator; “24hrs to test it” and then we can start all the preparations to move home.

It was the first day in 22 days that I feel happy.


In the evening, we learned the ICU doctor hooked him back to the hospital’s ventilator. We were furious.

The only needed step to move back home, was to make sure he can breathe through the home ventilator by testing it for 24hrs.

I didn’t want to see my father at 7am and tell him yet again “just wait a little longer, please”

My brothers did their part driving over there at 22, and I went to bed writing the talk I’ll have with his doctor the following day. I often write in a notebook, the conversation I’ll have when I call a stranger about a thing. So I wrote that in my head. I plan my talks with people that are older than me, especially when I’m the one angry. I don’t want to lose it or disrespect, yet I want to be clear and firm.

I fell asleep writing that. Every possible scenario with all the different people who could be there with us in the room.

Then I was waken up at 22 about my father’s heart stopping. They resuscitated him.

The dilemma

Dad loved life, and his heart kept connecting to it even when his whole body, part by part, was shutting down.

Every time, they resuscitated him.

He reached a point where even his bloodstream wasn’t healthy (Bacteremia), yet his heart kept beating.

My mum was torn. She didn’t want him in and out anymore but she couldn’t and didn’t want to sign a DNR.

We feared that on top of all his bodily problems, we’ll add broken ribs when the heart is weaker and needed more pressure.

The doctor in charge saw our distress. He promised he wouldn’t push too hard to the point of breaking.

Thank you Dr. M

My mother said one thing;

Every person has a specific time they’re born in, and has a specific time they’re gonna pass in. And we’re willing to wait.

We, the siblings, wanted -each on their own time- to take the easy way out and just sign the paper, but we all respected my mother’s wishes and then remember our own similar wishes.

She’s closest to him and whether it’s an emotional or rational decision, I dunno. She just believed in god’s plan and knew she wouldn’t have lived with the guilt, even when there shouldn’t be one.

We all waited with her.

And then, eventually, after 6 or 7 times of his heart stopping and coming back in between 22:02 on the 29th and 19:47 on the 30th,

he passed.

And we breathed out.

And then the tears have begun.