Difficult Life Decisions

I spoke with my mom’s cardiac surgeon today. For those not following my twitter account, my mother has late stage Alzheimer’s, she is 86 and non-ambulatory. She had a pacemaker installed 6-7 years ago and the battery is going. So the decision we have to make is do we put mom through the surgery?

They tell my sisters and I the procedure is fairly low risk. Infection is as big a risk as the surgery itself. But the decision is bigger then that. The surgeons says, “If your mom’s pacemaker fails in the next 9-12 months, you may not need it at all, if she did need it and it didn’t work, she would fall asleep and not wake up.”

If we put the pacemaker in it will continue to jump-start her heart and eventually go the road of diminishing capacity that most Alzheimer’s patients take. This is a very painful decision for our family. I feel for my sisters as they agonize with it. I never thought I would have to make a decision like this for my mother. I am confused, sad and second guess my thinking constantly. I want to do what is right, but what is right? I hope and pray for the right decision for our family and our mother.

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