It’s not like what you see on TV. In real life, resuscitation doesn’t work so well. I’ve worked on many cardiac arrest calls in the past and almost 100% were not successful. In those few successful resuscitations, the person was left physically and mentally damaged. With your burden of disease, the chances of a successful resuscitation would be close to zero. The first thing they teach us in medical school is, “first do no harm.” If something that we are considering doing has questionable benefits but likely harm, we really need to think about it carefully. You have so much going on already, and the last thing we want to do is to make your situation worse. Some of our treatments could worsen things with little chance of benefit. If your heart or lungs were to stop working, we would not be able to bring you back. We would not perform CPR as it would cause you harm with no benefit at all. I don’t think you are at risk of having your heart or lungs stop just yet, but I have to be clear with you as to what to expect. I don’t want there to be any surprises between us. It’s not over yet. So let’s focus on making the most of your time. Let’s concentrate on something that will help you, treatments that can decrease your suffering, and make you more comfortable. Is there something that you have always wanted to do that you haven’t done yet? Is there something nice that we could help organise?
She keeps on saying that she wants to go home, but we couldn’t cope with her at home.
She’s too unwell to go anywhere, I think that she could die at any time. I fully support your decision to keep her here in our inpatient unit. We’re going to get you all through this. She can’t go home for Christmas but maybe we could bring more of home in to this room?
Yes, we’ve put up the first of the Christmas decorations.
Please bring in more.
There’s something else that we need to talk about.
We previously had a conversation with our Oncologist about ACP (Advance Care Planning,) and we talked about resuscitation, CPR. It was a bit tense as our Oncologist felt that it would not be in her best interests. We did not agree, and wrote in the ACP that we wanted full resuscitation.
Things are different now, and we’d like to reverse the decision.
You want her to be not for resuscitation?Continue reading
Tonight in Australia (Thursday, 5 November, 830pm), SBS Insight tackles the topic of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and whether it’s always the right thing to do. (There are some familiar faces in the preview video!)
The discussions on Insight are usually excellent. I’m hoping for some thoughtful conversation about advance care planning, and hearing from people with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones.
You can also join the conversation at Insight’s Facebook page.
I hope there’s enough time for everyone to recover from last night’s Q&A!