In the case of Alfie, the question should not be "do we stop invasive care on a terminally ill toddler?" Rather, it ought to be, "do we want to be a society that stops invasive care on a terminally ill toddler because we think his life is not worth living or do we want to be a society that stops invasive care on a terminally ill toddler because his life is worth living but we recognize that our technologies cannot save him and because we respect his dignity and worth, we are going to stop invasive care because we want him to be comfortable as his body shuts down?"
"The world does not need more doctors. It needs more doctors that understand poetry."
As I recently told a young patient of mine, though we do not always get to choose our circumstances, we always have a choice in who we want to be. And we always have a choice to connect to one another or disconnect from one another.
The good ones are the exception, not the typical. I was expecting the good ones to be the typical. When I found the opposite, it was hard to let go of my expectations and accept the reality of my career instead of the fantasy I had built up in my head for years.
But sometimes the greatest victory is letting go. So too, good deaths allow the body to peacefully shut down instead of violently attempting to pump life back into a lifeless body.
One patient was 54. The other was 97. Guess who was the no code, the do no intubate (DNI), the do not resuscitate (DNR), the one awaiting death?