Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One of those things...

... nobody likes to talk about. Including me, usually.

It's been a hard week in my family and community. A man who has taught at one of the local private schools for over 30 years went into cardiac arrest last week while driving a van load of kids back to the school. He's only in his mid-fifties and is a jogger, hiker, etc. Very physically active and in good health. He was the history teacher and coach for almost all the sports. The kids love him. He and his wife were also close friends of our family, which has made it a little more personal for us.

Although the paramedics were able to re-start his heart, he has been in a coma ever since. If things do not improve, his wife will be making the difficult decision of what to do - prolong his life by artificial means or let him die.

No matter what your view is on this subject, it is hard. Working at the hospital, we are supposed to ask every patient when they check in if they have Advance Directives. Honestly, I usually don't ask. Pregnant moms tend to get a little freaked out when you ask them that as they are coming in to have a baby - but the truth is - you never know what may happen.

I asked my mom if this couple had advanced health directives and she said no. So without knowing his exact wishes on the subject, his wife will have to make this difficult decision based on what she thinks he would have wanted.

So here's my plug. If you ended up in a coma tomorrow, what would you want? Discuss it with your family. Go to your local hospital and pick up a copy of their Advanced Directives booklet. You fill out a few blanks and you can help your family out if the unthinkable happens by taking the decision out of their hands. Seriously... it only takes 10 minutes. (or visit this site and download your state specific AD for free)

I have intended to do this for quite some time with my husband, but as I said at the beginning... it's not really something you like to think about. But this week I've brought two home, we've both filled them out and we're getting our two witnesses to sign it. Then I'm going to give a copy to our parents and our physician for our medical file. Because the reality is - you just never know.

If you've read this far, you may be wondering - What are Advance Directives?
Living Will - (or Health Care Directive) is a written instruction that explains what you want and/or do not want concerning your medical care. This directive becomes effective if you have a terminal condition or are in a permanent unconscious condition and are unable to communicate.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care - this is a written instruction that lets you name a person who will make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so.

Hopefully, this is something none of us have to face. But I'd rather be prepared than not.

Thanks for reading.

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