The memory of smoke

The memory of smoke

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tattoo DNR on my chest, and let me go

I have no doubt there was some stupidity here. But CPR really doesn't do much for an 87 year old, save prolong the inevitable and kill someone by torture instead of allowing a natural death. Yes, there should have been DNR orders on file. But in facilities caring for people with little chance of surviving a lot of medical intervention, staff informally do a "slow code." Do what is required by law for the general population (for whom CPR has some chance of working) but mostly let nature take it's course.

Likely, the dispatcher got wound up in "saving!!!" the woman, and the "nurse" (if that is what she was) didn't really react at all, and the two versions clashed. Dumb v. Dumb, I suspect.

What happens when you do CPR on an 87 year old woman who needs assisted living? (Which is to say, not one of the extremely healthy, strong, active nearly 90 year olds.) Well, the ribs shatter, and the patient goes into an ICU, where they are pierced and tubed from every orifice and vein, drugged and kept awake, develop pneumonia or the feeding tube gets displaced, and they die shortly after, away from friends and family or anything comforting.

I'm all for ICUs for a victim of trauma, relatively healthy, fairly young, who may well survive to be strong another day. Marvelous in that case. For anyone else, the odds are minuscule to non-existant, at an astronomical price - both to the individual and raw money. It's more a science experiment than health care.


  1. DNR, absolutely. We have living wills (which mean we have stipulated that we don’t want to be kept alive at all cost. When I asked my doctor if she would honour our wishes, said she wasn’t sure, probably not.

  2. I wish I could count on being let die when the time comes. Too much to hope for euthanasia. If only we treated humans as kindly as we do our beloved pets when they get old and ill.


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