Has Anyone Signed A Living Will This Week
Q: Because I work in health related fields, and meet with many people in a variety of conditions, some of them pretty scary (such as PVS) I have thought long before now about issues related to end of life care. I also have a mom who is aging and for whom I take most responsibility, so a few years ago was thinking, I don't want to end up in arguments with my sisters in the ICU waiting room ... So a couple years ago I legally became my Mom's durable power of atty (allowed to make decisions with health care, as well as other legal decisions). I also asked my niece to be MY durable power of atty. At the time, she was hesitant (but what if I make a mistake??). I told her (more or less) to err on the side of death and I would forgive her when I saw her in heaven (or whatever).
So anyway. This last few weeks has really scared me. What if Rick Santorum decides I should be kept alive (he is my state senator....) and sends the national guard in to "rescue" me from death?
I decided to take some advance directive forms (to be witnessed by family) to Easter dinner. Just in case, I took 10 copies. While it's interesting to note that only my niece and I actually signed and fully completed the forms (my mom, one sister and one nephew took copies of the info to read...), more interesting was the conversation that developed around the subject. People talking about how or why or when they might want to live or die.
I hate this whole Shiavo situation, hate the gov't interference in private family matters, hate how sad it all is... Nonetheless, I KNEW some good things would come from this. One of the good things is that people are going to tell other people what they want to happen in similar circumstances.
I've been teaching a class about issues in health care. No doubt our capacity to save lives and keep people living is a real challenge as related to how much do people really want to "live" without being in any way who they used to be...
A: -On another board, I asked what people would want in a Living Will. I've thought about getting one, but I don't know what I would request. Another person sent me the form for Texas, and I don't like it *at all*. For the most part, here it is: (1) END-OF-LIFE DECISIONS: I direct that my health care providers and others involved in my care provide, withhold, or withdraw treatment in accordance with the choice I have marked below: (Initial only one box) a.. [___] (a) Choice NOT To Prolong Life. I do not want my life to be prolonged if (1) I have an incurable and irreversible condition that will result in my death within a relatively short time, (2) I become unconscious and, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, I will not regain consciousness, or (3) the likely risks and burdens of treatment would outweigh the expected benefits, OR b.. [___] (b) Choice To Prolong Life. I want my life to be prolonged as long as possible within the limits of generally accepted health care standards. I think I'll go with Choice B, hoping that by the time my Living Will is inacted, "generally accepted health care standards" doesn't mean "if you're not up dancing a jig by the fourth day, we give you the needle, because we need your bed for people who might really contribute to society." Choice A is awfully vague. (1) How long is "a relatively short time", and who gets to decide what that is? (2) I've heard of people who came out of a coma after doctors predicted that he/she wouldn't. (3) Burdens to *whom* that would outweigh the benefits to the patient? "Oh, gosh! It's costing so much to keep her alive; we could treat four or five other patients for what it's costing us to keep this one old person going!" -I live in Texas, and I have a living will that was provided by my attorney. Texas law is very specific about how these forms are to be completed. However, there is *much* more detail than what was apparently sent to you. In addition to the basic form, there is a directive to physicians that spells out various options and decisions. These forms do *not* give others a power to let someone die who has any reasonable chance of recovery. There is also a separate do not resuscitate order than can be attached. For example, my mother signed a living will, do not resuscitate order, and durable power of attorney (both financial and medical). I have a living will and durable power of attorney, but not a do not resuscitate order -- which my attorney recommends only for the very elderly or the very ill. .
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