MMSA – Yimeng Zhang

D uring my training to become a physiotherapist, I was fortunate to experience large varieties of situations and meet diverse groups of people. However, an encounter with one particular patient left an impact on me; surprisingly, it was one I had limited interactions with. This patient was an elderly woman suffering from a chest infection in a geriatric ward. She was referred to me to help to improve her mobilisation and eventually go home. When I first met her she seemed frail and spoke weakly, whenever she tried. Over the weeks, she made minimal progress and was still unable to get off the bed. One day, I was informed that her chest infection was getting worse as she was unable to swallow her drinks since some fluids were entering her lungs. A speech and language therapist was sent to help her and as a student, I was allowed to go along and learn from this experience. The patient was given a fluid thickener. Unsurprisingly, the patient refused to drink it and with her frail voice, begged to take normal drinks again. After half an hour of convincing, she was giving the ultimatum, “would you rather take this drink or harm your body and die?” Hearing this, she held the drink closer to her side as a silent way of agreeing. Having done our jobs, we left. That was the last time I heard of her. One day, curiosity led me to ask regarding her progress, expecting to hear that her chest is better. Instead I was told that she had passed away a week after our last encounter. It is not rare to have patients pass away, especially on the geriatric ward; however, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. She made an impossible choice between quality of life and living life itself. Sometimes I wonder, if she could have seen the future, would she have decided otherwise?