Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Preparing For The Inevitable

Killer jests, but is serious.

When do you want to die?

That is a question that many people scoff at and think, “Never”, but it is inevitable. The question should really be, “Do you want to live?” The answer, for most people, is very much dependent on when you ask.

I hope those reading this would immediately answer, “Yes, very much so!” Or at least a diminutive, “I guess; there is an Everybody Loves Raymond marathon on tonight.” Occasionally, however, the question is asked when you are unable to respond.

Say you are jogging one day, you are the poster child for good health, a city bus driver is distracted by a tourist asking for directions, and you get flattened. Modern emergency medicine revives you on the scene, scoops up all your intestines and what might be your spleen, and rushes you to the nearest trauma center. Dozens of highly motivated people work around the clock to put you into workable order, but due to the traumatic crushing injury to your torso, the massive loss of blood, and the raging infection you picked up from what turned out to not be your spleen, but actually a squished turtle, you spend the next six months on life support. The prognosis is grim.

The doctors all inform your family that if by some miracle you do live the best possible scenario would have you spending the rest of your life as an unthinking, unfeeling vegetable; a giant summer squash, which will require around the clock care.

To some people it might seem obvious that you would not want to live like that, but to your family it might be a little more complicated. It is never easy to make the decision to pull the plug. Maybe they will develop a cure for what ails you in a few years. Maybe the doctors are a bunch of idiots, and you will wake up; perhaps as a super hero with the special powers of a turtle.

If you haven’t explicitly informed your family exactly what your wishes are, you are leaving yourself in their hands. This means your crazy brother Billy can decide to keep you alive and use your inanimate body in his car for using the carpool lane. The point is, you should never trust people to know what to do in a dire situation. Tell them now, let them know, or better yet, create an advanced directive. That will serve as the ultimate decider in case you are incapacitated; either by a rogue bus driver, or from the coronary you will have for sitting on your ass reading blogs all day.

Personally, I am in luck. My family is heavily stocked with people in the health care professions. These are people who have been properly jaded by years of seeing the worst case scenarios for every imaginable illness. Not only do they know when to pull the plug on me, but everyone is fully aware that death is a natural part of life, and letting someone suffer is not going to help the grieving process.

I had the flu a while back and stayed in bed for a few days to recuperate. When I finally did emerge my family had already written eulogies and ordered a head stone. I probably should not have told them about my life insurance policy.

Nobody wants to end up on their death bed, but if you do, be prepared.
Advanced Directives/Living Wills


judyb said...

thanks for that, Killer. Everyone needs to think about this, even people who are perfectly healthy.

Mayren said...

It's not a subject most people talk about but it should be at least once to get your affairs in order. It's heartbreaking for a family to go thru the loss then turn around and have the financial burden to bear as well. It's really happening all over the nation too.

Babybull40 said...

I told my Hubby that I wanted to be cremated and that I didn't want to be left a vegatable if something bad happens to me and he said he basically wanted the same thing.. As you get older.. Stuff like this pops up and it needs attention.. it's always good to have it in writing...If family is wise they will follow the wishes of the person that is incapacitated..

hellohahanarf said...

can't agree more. my entire family (and it is a huge one) knows that i have no desire to live incapacitated on machines. pretty much we are all of the same opinion. mom just passed a year ago due to the damned cancer and it was so difficult to refrain from inserting an iv for fluids, but we knew she didn't want feeding tubes or an iv for hydration. the best part was how alert she was at the hospital so she could tell the docs that she wanted to go to the hospice facility. she told them that the morning she died. pretty amazing, actually. i hope to be half as graceful when it comes to my time.

laughingattheslut said...

When I die I want to be cremated and I want my ashes taken to a particular beach if possible.

My mom will want the whole funeral with a pretty coffin and everything. So that will probably happen instead.

Churlita said...

I was just thinking about this the other day. We have some new, free will writing service at work, and I need to get my ass in gear before my family decides that taxidermy is the best option for me after they let me suffer as a vegetable for 6 months. Did I mention that my family had a lot of issues?

MOM said...

Hey!! How did you find out about the headstone!!! I thought I had it cleverly camoflaged in the front flower bed. By the way, no coffin or funeral for you, my flower bed needs more mulch!!!! Love ya!

laughingattheslut said...

Was the year already carved on the head stone? Do they have to buy a new one?

What else did it say? Loving son? Devoted his life to healing others?

Were balls mentioned?

Jester said...

What does it mean when your family mentions that they can't wait to pull the plug on me when I'm not even sick?

laughingattheslut said...

Jester, did they also vote you off the island?

Red said...

I have to say, you addressed this topic very nicely and, somehow, with levity. Well done, and wise words.

Killer said...

Thanks to all who responded, it seems innapropriate to mock your comments on this subject, except my mother's.

That is going in my special file of reasons you should be placed in a cheap nursing home.

JLeonard said...

Hmmm...The more I think about it the more I have decided to be the one that hangs around for months in the ICU riding a vent and with a feeding tube in my gut. Just be the patient that everyone draws straws not to have to take care of. I want to leave a lasting impresion on the staff, the one that stories are told about for years and years.
No but really I want a big tattoo across my chest with DNR in bright red letters. It is just cruel to put people thru that torture.

mist1 said...

I want to die immediately after shouting, "Help!"

laughingattheslut said...

Why isn't Liz saying anything?

Is she camped out in front of the Post Office waiting for her passport?