Do you have a Living Will?!?!

November 3rd, 2014


Yes, that’s a headset — don’t be using a cell phone without one, DOH!

It’s almost winter, plants are shriveling up, we’ve just celebrated Dia de los Meurtos, and now is the time!  Make or revise your Living Will, your Health Care Declaration.  Just do it!

It’s my belief that having gone through this with parents, and so many times with our dogs and cats, and with clients, it’s a lot more clear how I’d like to wrap up this life and what I want to avoid.  It’s easier to talk about it because we’ve had to make these decisions, look at quality of life, what a “good life” and a “good death” mean, what efforts and torture we’d want to go through, and I’m pretty clear: ALAN, CALL THE VET!!!

Recently an advocate activist cohort, Jan Greenfield, died of lymphoma.  Most people have also heard of Brittany Maynard, who at 29 was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and opted out of treatment and life a couple days ago.  Ted Kennedy, Lee Atwater, Janet Johnson… The list goes on, cancer is everywhere, particularly as we get older.  And dear Kady, well, I found another tumor on her yesterday…

There’s an editorial in the STrib that I recommend, “To treat or not to treat a brain tumor,”  about a couple’s journey through brain cancer, and it’s important particularly for this one section on how doctors view treatment and death:

“What’s unusual about [doctors],” Murray wrote, “is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.”

Physicians are much more likely than the general public to sign a living will, specifying what, if any, treatments they want in the event of serious illness, according to a 2003 study.

In a recent Stanford University School of Medicine study of 1,081 doctors, 88 percent said they would choose a do-not-resuscitate order for themselves. Further, this group agreed they did not want treatment if they had an “incurable and irreversible condition that will result in … death.”

Doctors are more familiar not just with death but with the foibles of trying to flout it.

“Of course, doctors don’t want to die,” wrote Murray. “But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits.”

Think about that… “They know enough about modern medicine to know its limits.”

Here’s some information on Living Wills, a/k/a Health Care Directives.  Don’t wait — take time before year end to wrestle with your mortality, your thoughts and choices, so that those around you know what you want and won’t have to guess.  Talk with your “decider” so that you are confident they understand your wishes, and more importantly, can and WILL advocate for you if necessary — not everyone can do it.  Make provisions for your animals, line up a guardian and let the neighbors know — they’re the ones on the scene — and set aside a little fund for their care.  And clean the house so they won’t have to!!! (no really, figure out what to do with all those files and books and tools!  That’s too much to dump on anyone.)

Questions and Answers about Health Care Directives – Minnesota Dept. of Health

Here are some examples, and your health care provider may have their own version.  Talk to your trusted medical minds and go over options.  Make some decisions so that others can know and act.  From the Twin Cities Medical Society: