Sometimes less is more humane

Dear President Trump,

Technically it’s August 18th here in Atlanta, but I am giving myself the extra couple of hours that belong to the West Coast to send you this note. I went straight from the airport to the hospital and spent the day there with Laura, her brother, our brother-in-law (BIL), and twelve or thirteen of his close relatives. On the way to the hospital I was acutely aware of the contrast between the world we were traveling through and the world that I knew to be inside BIL’s ICU room. I wasn’t exactly having flashbacks to my ICU time but having been confined in one with another infinitely sad outcome, I had a strong sense that it would feel very familiar. And it did and it does. I was grateful when Laura’s brother talked ever so briefly about how hard it is that the four of us seem to have this awful history of having to deal with sudden, acute health crises that not everyone comes through ok.

In between holding BIL’s hands and soothing him when he became agitated or was struggling with awful bursts of pain Laura, her brother, and I took some time out of the room and talked about how the medical team’s goal seems to be at odds with the reality of BIL’s situation. They have been holding onto the idea that if the meds can be dialed in properly and his GI system is given enough time to heal a bit, he could go back on the immunotherapy at a lower dose and buy more time. Theoretically. BIL is currently not capable of saying what he wants but before he became nonverbal he was clear he was dying and he knew the odds of having a reasonably comfortable existence for a few more months were extremely low. Factoring all this in, we plan to talk with the palliative care team tomorrow and let them know it is time to switch to hospice and help BIL be comfortable for whatever time he has left. It was hard to leave tonight but Laura’s brother is sleeping in the room and we need some sleep too.

May we all be safe to speak up for what we think is right even if it is the hardest thing in the world.
May we all be willing to consider that sometimes less if more humane.
May we collectively work on having healthier relationships with death.
May we hold one another gently and tell each other over and over how much we are loved.

Tracy Simpson

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