17 Philip Rivers 2004-2019 thank you for the memories shirt

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After Brigitte related this to me, I went right to Khalid’s bedside with the translator. “Are you tired of all this, Khalid?” I asked. “We can stop trying so hard to make you better and just work on making you comfortable.” Khalid shook his head. “Do you want to live?” I asked. He nodded vigorously. “You have a long way to go and many more operations before you will be better.” His face was agonized. I knew he was miserable in his state, but I also thought that he had hope. I asked him in a half a dozen or so different ways if he wanted to just be comfortable and not get more operations and work done. He reiterated in the end his desire to live and to have everything done that we could do to help him.

17 Philip Rivers 2004-2019 thank you for the memories shirt

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In my times in Baghdad, I learned that there were Iraqi cultural taboos against speaking of the impending death of a loved one. Translators would refuse to translate our statements that a patient was dying and there was nothing we could do to stop it: “I cannot tell his brother/mother/son/father that.” In the end, the statement’s content would consist of assurances that we were doing everything we could do, we were working hard to keep the patient comfortable, and God willing (“Inshallah”) he would pull through. In retrospect, I am convinced that these cultural restrictions kept Khalid from stating to me what he really wanted—to die as comfortably as possible. I had stood so many times at his bedside, watching him, encouraging him, joking with him, that I wonder sometimes if he would not tell me he wanted to die because he did not want to let me down.

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