What sort of question is that? Who asks that and of whom?
Well, we think it’s a very important question. Jane and I discuss it often. We talk about what would be acceptable and what we would hate to happen. We would both like to die in our sleep – but wouldn’t we all?!
It’s very important to talk about just what we mean by resuscitation. Those of you who watch TV hospital dramas might think that a few timely, well administered shocks might restore us to health and mean we can sit up and drink tea a few minutes later. Let us tell you – it’s not like that. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is brutal regardless of what tune you do it to! Its exhausting for everyone involved and it’s not frequently successful. There is a chance of surviving if it’s a witnessed arrest (someone actually sees you collapse) and the witness is skilled (and fit). Even then, broken ribs are frequent. A defibrillator does make a huge difference, as does the arrival of trained help – such as a paramedic but still the chances of a full recovery are low.
Of course, it is more likely to be successful if the only problem is that your heart stops beating but if there are other things happening too then you are much less likely to survive.
As we get older, things start to go wrong – basically we get worn out. Arteries harden and the heart muscle gets weaker. Our lungs are less elastic and don’t expand so easily and we retain fluid which is hard to manage. The chances of successful resuscitation get less and less. Resuscitation works best when there is a sudden, reversible cardiac event (a heart attack when muscle in the heart dies). It is of no use when our heart is simply worn out. None of us lives forever; eventually our heart will stop beating.
Jane and I both know that when that time comes we would like to die peacefully and with dignity. I don’t want to die with someone hammering on my chest and trying to inflate my lungs. I would like my last kiss to be from someone I love.
So ‘no thanks’ – I don’t want to be resuscitated when my heart stops beating – but thanks for asking.
A sudden cardiac arrest may be reversible but as a wise person once said, “CPR is not a treatment for death”, so no I do not wish to be resuscitated either thank you.