A couple of weeks ago Dad moved from one hospital to another. The new hospital is closer to home, which is a good thing for everyone.
For the first time since Dad has been in the hospital, I looked at all his wristbands. These days when you're in the hospital you're not even a name. You're simply a bar code on a wristband. Different health care workers come in and scan the bar code for different information.
Two of his wristbands say "DNR" in bold letters. The first time I saw this, I gasped. I knew Dad decided to sign the do not resuscitate (DNR) papers. He made the choice when he learned that his COPD was progressively getting worse, which meant his quality of life would be decreasing.
It hasn't been a secret. One thing my parents have been really, really vocal about is their wishes. After watching my maternal grandmother waste away with Alzheimer's, they have been clear and steady about their wishes, and the DNR decision falls right into it.It's one thing to know he decided to be DNR. It's another to see it on your father's wristband.
I think about this whenever I visit him. I try not to look at his wristbands because I don't want to catch a glimpse of the letters DNR. It's childish, I know. I just want to pretend it's not an issue we have to face. I just want to spend time with my Dad while I can -- without worrying about DNR issues.
One day -- all too soon -- the DNR issue will become more important. We're not pretending that he's really going to get better. It's about the quality of a few days rather than the quantity of days. The grown-up in me says it's all part of life. The child in me wants to avoid it all.