In my last two columns I wrote about filling out my Advanced Directive.
I recalled my friend Bob’s illness. Several years ago, Bob was hospitalized with a serious but treatable illness.
Life support measures kept Bob alive while his body healed. Today he continues to live a healthy and productive life.
Now let’s consider a different scenario—a situation in which life support measures such as ventilators and feeding tubes are the only things keeping a patient alive.
This time I’ll be the patient. Unlike Bob, let’s say I have no chance of recovery from my illness.
Suppose I’m in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), kept alive by means of machines that breathe for me and tubes to provide fluids and nutrients. I have irreversible loss of brain function.
In this situation, I am not able to tell my doctors or my family what kind of treatment I want or do not want.
Without a say so from my family, I could remain in a limbo of machines and tubes indefinitely.
And without Advanced Directives I would leave my family facing wrenching decisions.
With this paperwork in place, my family will be better able to speak for me if I can’t speak for myself.
I had a good conversation with family members about my End off Life Wishes—so it seemed time to put pen to paper.
I opened The Colorado Hospital Association’s pamphlet: Your Right to Make Healthcare Decisions.
This booklet offers information and forms for advanced planning.
The booklet includes several parts. The most important section in my mind is the Medical Durable Power of Attorney.
By filling out this form, I appointed one of our daughters to make medical decisions for me if I’m incapacitated. Our other daughters are designated to step in if needed.
Another section in the booklet is a form for a Living Will.
This second form lets you put into writing the kind of medical care you want—or don’t want.
A third form in the booklet lets you decide whether you want CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) if your heart stops or you stop breathing.
While Advanced Directives don’t try to answer every question that may arise, hopefully these forms will help family and medical staff if I’m unable to speak for myself.
I’m glad I completed the Advanced Directives, but I found it difficult to wade through all the legal jargon in the documents.
I think a class to help fill out such documents would be helpful.
Apparently others also find this task daunting since only about 25% of adults have filled out these forms.
I can’t speak for others, but what I really needed was an Advanced Directives for Dummies book.
I have mailed copies of m Advanced Directives to my physician and to our daughter. And I have one copy tucked away in our freezer—right next to the frozen peas.
Filling out Advanced Directives ranks right up there with root canals, colonoscopy preps and IRS forms. But if I can trudge through this form so can you!