Saturday, March 26, 2016
Difficult choices 2
As a senior medical student facing our baby’s diagnosis, I had already gotten glimpses not just of heartwarming medical triumphs, but also of cases in which outcomes were poor, and families were left to navigate through the aftermath and the potential for strained finances, strained relationships, and hard decisions about life-prolonging treatments and quality of life, in a society and a medical system that is poorly equipped to provide the needed help and support. I had learned the resistance profile of antibiotics and the indications for starting dialysis, but I had also learned that a great deal of medicine remains as much an art as a science, and that among the statistics and quoted prognoses, no one could tell us what the right thing was for our family given the particular constellation of risks, challenges and possibilities. So, we made the gut-wrenching decision for our son to live and die knowing only the warmth and safety of my body. For us, it was the most right and just decision in a situation that was, by all measures, impossibly wrong.