Scene 2

Scene 2

SETTING:                   The hallway outside of MARY’s room.

There is a counter with a couple of nurses working at the station. A wall runs along one side with a door leading to another room.

AT RISE:                   PATRICK and DR. LANDEN are standing in

front of the wall, away from the nurses. They are leaning toward each other as if conspiring something.

PATRICK

She’s really suffering, doctor. She wants to end her life.

(pauses to see what effect this will have)

Is there anything you can do?

DR. LANDEN

(stiffening)

How so?

PATRICK

(uncomfortable)

Maybe give her something. . .

(almost whispering)

You know – to ease her out.

DR. LANDEN

(leans back)

We’re not in Oregon. Assisted suicide isn’t legal here. I can’t just euthanize your mother.

(His bedside manner leaves much to be desired.)

PATRICK

(winces)

I know – I know. . . But isn’t there something you can give her – make her feel better?

DR. LANDEN

We don’t have any happy pills.

PATRICK

(Exhales loudly. He wants to floor this guy.)

You know what I mean!

DR. LANDEN

(softening)

Yes, I know what you mean.

PATRICK

So. . .

DR. LANDEN

Look – your mother just had a respiratory crises. It’s her second one in two months. The last time she was in intensive care for four days. COPD doesn’t have a cure. There is nothing we can do to make your mom feel better but give her oxygen and help her breathe.

PATRICK

I already know this.

DR. LANDEN

(softer still)

Your mother will just keep getting weaker. She’ll need the breathing mask full-time now, and even then it will be hard for her. I’ve seen her medical directive – no resuscitation – no intubation.

PATRICK

How much longer does she have to live?

DR. LANDEN

I don’t know. Weeks – months maybe. . .

PATRICK

So what’s the point in that? Just to make her suffer?

(pauses)

There’s got to be something you can do.

DR. LANDEN

(pauses)

There is, but you might not like it.

PATRICK

What is it?

DR. LANDEN

We call it Comfort Care.

PATRICK

Comfort Care?. . .

DR. LANDEN

It’s a type of palliative care. We give her morphine to make her unconscious, then we remove her mask. We let her breathe on her own until she can’t anymore.

PATRICK

(somewhat shocked)

And if she stops breathing?

DR. LANDEN

She dies. . .

PATRICK

This is allowed?

DR. LANDEN

(nodding)

It’s allowed.

PATRICK

How is that any different than assisted suicide?

DR. LANDEN

We’re not actively causing her death. We stop the suffering and let nature take its course. That’s why it’s called Comfort Care.

PATRICK

(pauses)

How long will it take?

DR. LANDEN

I can’t say. Your mother could stop breathing immediately or it could take days. We had a woman in here that lasted a week.

PATRICK

Jesus!

(pauses)

Will she know what’s happening? Will she suffer at all?

DR. LANDEN

No. She’ll be unconscious. We continue the morphine drip so she doesn’t wake up. She won’t feel a thing.

PATRICK

How can you be so sure?

DR. LANDEN

Well – nobody knows for sure. But if she was agitated, we would probably see it – in her facial expressions, moving limbs – as if she was having a bad dream. Every time we do this the patients just lie there peacefully. They’re out.

PATRICK

And you do this often?

DR. LANDEN

More often than you think.

(They both pause and stare at each other.)

PATRICK

When can you start?

DR. LANDEN

It will take a couple of hours to set up.

PATRICK

A couple of hours!

DR. LANDEN

I can’t just wave a wand. Other people have to sign off. And I will need your mother’s signature while she is still conscious.

(gives PATRICK a hard look)

So – do you want to go ahead with this?

PATRICK

(long pause)

It’s what she wants.

(BLACKOUT)

(END OF SCENE)

*

On to Scene 3