My 94-year-old mother’s experience after a stroke shows how much treatment can be improved as people near the end
We are at my mother’s bedside and I’m pretty sure she’s dying. The doctor is shining a light into her eyes and rubbing her chest. The hospital curtains are closed and my children are crying. My mother is 94 and before she had a stroke and broke her hip three days ago she was in pretty good shape. But everyone has to go sometime. Although apparently not on the ward of a London teaching hospital. “We’re going to do another CT scan,” says a junior doctor. “Because she’s really gone off.”
My practise of medicine may be rusty but this is both cruel (her hip is painful) and a waste of time. I argue with the medical registrar (who is too busy to talk so we fight through the junior doctor) to keep mum from the indignity of another intervention. I win by sounding like a heartless bitch who doesn’t want her mum to have a test (that wouldn’t have changed her management). The next day my mother is sitting out of bed eating yoghurt.
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