“Never give up,” and “miracles do happen” are two of the common catchphrases that we are very used to hearing, but which we don’t always merit to see reflected in life’s events. Recently however, the CMC was involved in the experience of an elderly patient, “RP”, whose astonishingly miraculous medical turnaround clearly suggests that such expressions are far more than mere clichés.
A number of weeks ago, RP suffered a major stroke, and was rushed to a local hospital. During the ensuing days and weeks, the CMC was constantly available by the side of RP’s family, as a continuous source of practical guidance, emotional encouragement and moral support.
Unfortunately, the hospital stated that RP’s condition was seriously deteriorating. Before long, RP needed to be intubated with a ventilator to enable her to receive oxygen, and she was also placed on an NG feeding tube in order to receive nutrition.
RP’s brain had suffered major injuries. As a result of damage sustained by close to fifty percent of the patient’s brain, the doctor informed RP’s family that they should not expect RP to ever be able to talk, eat or breathe independently.
On this basis therefore, the hospital recommended that RP be place into hospice care, under which all life support would be removed. The ventilator and feeding tube would be removed, and the goal of care would be focused on providing the patient comfort, rather than endeavoring to heal her injuries or prolong her life.
Inasmuch as RP had previously expressed her wishes not to remain living indefinitely on life support, her family agreed to the hospital’s recommendation to remove the ventilator and feeding tube, and to let nature take its course. The family was given to understand that RP did not have long to live. Consequently, they began to make practical and emotional preparations for her imminent passing.
Astonishingly however, after life support was removed, RP’s condition did not decline as expected, but actually started to improve, including regular breathing. Furthermore, within a short space of time, RP also began communicating through speech, and was even eating and swallowing three meals a day! Doctors who heard about RP’s medical turnaround were astounded by her miraculous improvement, completely reversing the original prognosis that she had been given.
In view of the amazing turnaround in RP’s condition, her family agreed with Rabbi Wolf’s advice that she did not belong in hospice care. With tremendous wonder and gratitude, they had RP discharged from hospice and transferred to a rehab facility, where – thank G-d – her health continued to improve.
Providing pastoral care for patients, and offering guidance and counseling to families of the ill and infirm, are among the most important services offered by the CMC.