I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. | Philippians 1:23
Every day is certainly a gift from God, but I know this world is not my home and I eagerly await the day I will get to go to my true home and meet the Lord face to face. Because of my profession working with cancer patients, I am constantly reminded of human frailty and that tomorrow is never promised. I am also more comfortable talking about death.
First off, I don’t fear death because I know that once I pass from the world, I will be in the presence of the Lord from that moment forward for eternity. This is ONLY because Jesus died and rose again, defeating sin and death once and for all! Because He lives, I can face anything, including death.
I have faith that death is not the final stop but more a starting point in comparison to
eternity with my Messiah.
Second, because of all that I have witnessed, I know how I want to die. Before you start to get all riled up, let me explain. Now, I understand that many people have zero say in how they die, and this includes freak accidents, cardiac events, and acts of violence/terror, to name a few. However, this is different in the cases of chronic and terminal illnesses.
DISCLAIMER: this is MY preference based on my faith in COMBINATION with my medical knowledge. I cannot and will not tell you what is the best or right decision since every situation is unique, but I want to make this opportunity for you to start thinking about what YOUR preferences would be if you are ever in a situation where you or a loved one are faced with a life-or-death situation.
What I want to focus on today specifically is “code status.” The two code statuses are Full Code and DNR/DNI, or Do Not Resuscitate/Do Not Intubate. Most people are not familiar with what these things mean until someone has to be admitted to the hospital for an acute illness.
Let me explain what each would entail.
Full Code means that if the heart were to stop, the hospital staff would call a “Code Blue,” start CPR, and perform shocks with a defibrillator with the hope of getting return of circulation. If you are unable to breathe on your own, you would be sedated and intubated—meaning a tube would be inserted down your trachea (wind pipe) and a machine would do the breathing on your behalf. All of this together is what would be called “life support,” and it would be maintained in an ICU setting.
I know that TV shows and movies have really dramatized what this looks like, but it is so inaccurate! People are left with the impression that doing such measures will bring people back to normal. In reality, successful CPR measures will crack the ribs and can lead to many other complications, such as punctured lungs or bleeds. After everything is said and done, roughly 20% of people who need and receive CPR are actually able to recover and be discharged.
As far as being on a ventilator machine goes, the machine can keep going as long as there is a power source, but the body is literally in a medically sedated and paralyzed state, and there is no guarantee that the lungs will be in a state where they can recover to the point that one could breathe independently.
Ultimately, one would have to decide if one is prolonging life or prolonging death.
On the flip side, there is DNR/DNI, or do not resuscitate/intubate, meaning that if one were to stop breathing or if the heart stopped beating, there would not be heroic measures but instead, hospital staff would ensure that someone is as comfortable as possible during those last moments.
I know we have made some incredible medical advancements in this day and age, and it is crazy to think how far we have come in the medical field. However, after seeing what I have seen, I personally would not want invasive measures such as CPR and intubation if I had an illness that would not get better. I do not want to “live” as a shell while my family suffers on the sidelines with their lives on pause while their lives are being bled dry.
That bottom line:
if the Lord calls me home to heaven,
I will trust His plan and His goodness.
Like I said, there is no wrong or right decision, but I want you to start thinking and praying about what your wishes would be and have discussions with your family and friends. (And if you would like me to elaborate more on this topic or if there are questions, please feel free to leave comments!)