Lessons Learned From Donna’s Illness and Death

Yes. Every time I walk down the path of serious illness and death of a family member, I learn lessons.  Lessons that apply directly the next time I have a similar situation.  This is what I learned from Donna’s last days.

1. If there is a medical concern that is not being adequately addressed (in my opinion), I need to speak up.  Donna had restless legs syndrome and previous to her heart attack, had taken medication for that condition.  She used it regularly, and it worked well for her.  When she had her heart attack, the doctor took her off that medication.  He was concerned that her restless legs medication might exacerbate some of the mental and physical confusion she was exhibiting.  Because we did not believe that to be the case, Donna and Darla both asked the doctor to allow her to have the medication.  He refused them both.  Since they did not receive positive results from their requests, I did not follow-up with a request of my own. Looking back on this, I wish now that I had respectfully and forthrightly approached the doctor. Who knows? Perhaps I would have been able to help the doctor understand our concerns and place Donna back on the medication, thereby make her much more comfortable.  If he refused me as well, then I would know that at least I tried.  At least I tried. At least I tried.

2. You never know what or when a person’s last words will be.  So to the best of your ability, pay attention to every moment.  Stay engaged in the conversation when your family member feels like talking.  When it’s over, it’s over.