Zara Aziz: I want to be given a chance at life

The twins and I are recovering from the 11+ exams, by catching up on some reality TV.

Undercover Boss is in a care home, making some mash under the beady eye of the head cook.

My daughter enquires: 'What are care homes really like?'

Having spent a good part of my working life visiting care homes, I am an authority on the subject, hence the answer comes easily enough: 'They range from being good, bad to very ugly, so quite variable, really.'

Her brother retorts: 'So they're just like schools then, mummy.'

The next day, I go off to visit a care home, armed with care plans and some urine specimen pots.

Most of the residents are dozing quietly in the lounge after their cottage pie. Some are sipping lukewarm tea from their beakers as they watch A Place in the Sun.

Everyone ignores me, apart from a little old lady who grunts her displeasure when the carers try to escort her to the toilet. Replace the residents with little children and I could be at home.

In the privacy of the dining room, I think of the DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) forms lurking morbidly in my bag, and broach the subject with Peter, my next patient. He is a frail 94-year-old, with heart failure and COPD.

In response to my question, he asks me quite openly: 'What would you do in my shoes?'

I have thought about this a lot: the futility of resuscitation in the face of unavoidable death. But then I am a doctor and I would think like that, wouldn't I?

'Now that you ask me, I would actually not ...,' I begin hesitantly, but he stops me with a gesture of his hand.

'Exactly, I knew you would understand. I want to be resuscitated as well, to be given a chance at life. Now was there something else, or can I go back to the lounge?' He beams at me endearingly.

Feeling as though I have been dismissed, but somehow pleased, I nod my head, as Peter walks away with his Zimmer.

I am still smiling as I walk the short distance back to the surgery.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol.

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