I know plenty of people that are paralyzed with indecision over things of
Much less life changing trade-offs…
I simply cannot imagine struggling with these profound questions in a medical way.
And – God forbid – when to “give up.”
I mean, I’m usually all about weighing pros and cons in a systematic way.
You try to be rational. You try to answer and empirical question.
But I don’t know…
Maybe in this case, just pray.
In addition, to the patient and family, the brain surgery is usually the most dramatic event they have ever faced and, as such, has the impact of any major life event. At those critical junctures, the question is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living. Would you trade your ability—or your mother’s—to talk for a few extra months of mute life? The expansion of your visual blind spot in exchange for eliminating the small possibility of a fatal brain hemorrhage? Your right hand’s function to stop seizures? How much neurologic suffering would you let your child endure before saying that death is preferable? Because the brain mediates our experience of the world, any neurosurgical problem forces a patient and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?
-Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air (Amazon)