Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Killing Me Softly

Slowly, sadly, I climb upon my soapbox here in AOL Hometown and say to you the following:

A little less than two hours ago, authorized by hastily drafted bill passed by the Florida Legislature, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed an order requiring the re-commencement of feeding of a 39-year old woman in coma for the past several years, in spite of the stated remembrance of her wishes by her husband.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of "Right-to-die," this case points up only one thing of true importance. If you want your wishes carried out if you were to be suddenly stricken and unable to captain your life as you see fit, then you must prepare for the potentiality. First, prepare directions to your loved ones in the form of Advance Orders, also known as Advance Directives. Don't forget the potential need for Advance Psychiatric Orders, too. And if, like me, you have no desire to be resuscitated in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes to others, make sure you have clear Do Not Resuscitate orders (also known as DNR orders) written in accordance with your state's laws. But the job isn't done, yet. Next, you must educate your family, your doctors, and your attorney about your wishes. Have in depth discussions with your Primary Care Physician as there are permutations which should be explored and discussed. Do you want resuscitation on the operating table while having surgery to reduce your pain, for instance?

Explain your wishes in detail and discuss your reasons with your family members. If it appears that any one has any reservations about your choices, for your sake, do NOT place them in a position where they can exercise their will over you. If that means appointing someone other than your spouse or children to make decisions, do it now, while you have control over the situation. Look at the case cited above, by way of example. It's husband pitted against the wishes of parents and siblings. Again, I can't stress this enough. Do not allow anyone to be in a position of power over the disposition of your life if they can not be trusted 100% to carry out your wishes. When dealing with your family members, it may be necessary to back up your wishes by putting some "If - then" statements in your Will regarding noncompliance, again in accordance with your state's laws.

Additional things you can do, particularly if you choose not to receive resuscitation. Get a tattoo placed on your chest over your heart that states "No CPR." Wear a Medical Alerting bracelet or necklace that states the same thing. Understand clearly that first responders and EMS are not required and indeed, may not be allowed by state law to follow your wishes in this regards in the field. But many will abide by your wishes when they are protected by the clear expression of those wishes, especially if your wishes are spelled out clearly, even if unconscious.

Don't let another's religion or politics intrude upon your life in an unwanted fashion. Act before its necessary. Thinking about your own death may make you feel funny for a short while but its nothing compared to a lifetime of being a vegetable with tubes sprouting from every orifice. Or, it may be you'd much prefer life as a tuber to the alternative. And how will your family know unless you have written it all down for them to see?

Thank you for your time and your tomatoes.

This entry has 1 comments: (Add your own)

Unfortunately, the same goes for organ and tissue donation. It's not enough to put "organ donor" on your driver's liscense. You have to convince your family that it's what you WANT. Without their consent, it won't be done. Put everything in writing! Discuss your wishes with more than just one family member. Make it very clear what you want BEFORE something happens. This story is such an unfortunate one. Thank you for the information.
Comment from slowmotionlife - 10/25/03 5:05 PM

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