Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tough Decisions....arghhh!

I think I just filled out the most difficult piece of paper I've ever had to complete--an advance directive.

I've been asked so many times at the doctor if I have one on file, and I've had the forms for over a year, but never could bring myself to fill one out. Today I did, and I filled out one for my husband, too. Now I have to find two people to witness our signatures or pay a notary. I have such mixed feelings about my answers.

Funny, when your in your thirties and forties, you don't think about things like this, but as you realize that most of your favorite TV re-runs feature people who are dead, you get a big slap of reality. I'm about to become an official senior citizen and despite how young I pretend to be, I'm not a spring chicken anymore.

I don't want to put my children in the position of having to make life or death decisions for me, but then I had a horrible time making them for myself.

How do you know how you'll feel when the time comes that you need life-saving measures? I had to decide if I want doctors to help me maintain an acceptable quality of life even though I might be permanently unconscious, suffer confusion to the point where I am unable to remember, understand or make decisions, or worse... if I become dependent on someone else for all activities associated with my daily living.

Do I want CPR to restart my heart if it stops. This usually involved electric shock and I've been shocked before and didn't like it at all. Do I want to be on a breathing machine, or a guinea pig for new treatments? Do I really want tubes to deliver my food and water? Right now, I think not, but I value my life so much, it's hard to make a conscious decision that whatever happens, I don't want anyone to save me.

As if those decisions aren't hard enough, I also need to leave instructions about burial arrangements, hospice, etc. I'm in a quandary. I have claustrophobia, so the idea of being in a box six feet under makes it hard for me to breathe just thinking about it. The idea of being charred doesn't appeal to me either, but those are my choices. I choose cremation, but only if they make sure I'm really dead.

Then the last part is organ donation. I'm hoping I live long enough to wear out my organs, and I've never liked anyone seeing me naked, so that affected my decision there. I'm giving my corneas. They should be okay because I'm having my cataracts removed in December. I know this sounds like I'm not taking this serious, but if I don't crack a joke here and there, I think I might cry. This is tough. I just keep telling myself that I'm sparing my kids the hard decisions, but dang...I don't want to make them either.


Chris Redding said...

Anyone who is going into the hospital, not matter what for, should have an advance directive. I did my first one in my 30's when I went in to birth my children.
I feel for you making these decisions. I think for me, having been involved with emergency medical services, and having done CPR on people who had multiple things wrong with them and probably no chanceof coming back, some of those decisions were easy.

unwriter said...

I've never heard it called advance directive but what you describe is, to me, a living will. I don't have one, but should. I'm the guy that wants to be late for my own funeral. Actually, I'm leaving instructions not to have one but to throw a party instead. I love humor and fun and a party can help everyone in that way.

MC said...

I have never been in your position (where I live, this is not considered unless there maybe a do not resusitate order) although I thought a great deal about everything you have mentioned.

When the heart doesn't pump blood, you need CPR and delivery of a shock to the heart; defibrillation. Defibrillation eliminates the abnormal VF heart rhythm and allows the normal rhythm to resume. Please don't fear won't be aware enough to notice the process and you'll recover (typically).

I don't wish to think about burial or cremation either...the idea of fire fills me with dread even though I KNOW won't be able to feel it. But I have always had a fear of fire.

I've been an organ donor for thirty years and I doubt now my 'parts' are as valuable as they once were but the thought if I could help one person through my passing, is greatly pleasing to me.

Lorrie said...

A scary prospect, Ginger. I think about the "quality of life" if we don't make those decisions.
Personally, I never want to be dependent on my children or in a nursing home. So, the decisions would be a bit easier for me.
Most of us love life, but how would you like to live it in a vegatative state, or constant agony.
Death and an advanced directive is something we all have to face as "part of life."
And I don't like it anymore than you do. But...

Anonymous said...

Ginger we could not be more alike in our wishes...Right or wrong I have always made my own decisions...and I reserve the right to make my last decision toooo...:))

Latesha said...

Ginger, Big hugs to you on making tough decisions that you don't want your family to make during difficult times.

Phyllis Campbell said...

I know my time is coming soon. Of course, this reminds me of Grey's Anatomy that I saw just the other day. The man's wife was on life support and it was up to the doctor to pull the plug. The man comes back for revenge and starts shooting up the hospital. Scary...

Okay, but in real life, I think this decision should be ours, not the doctors or our family. But ours.


MC said...

In actual fact, it is the decision of the family to have life support shut down. A doctor may recommend it but the family or husband decides.

TV programmes have many dramatic, unrealistic situations for ratings. Don't worry about this type of scenario in reality, Phyllis. Particularily with a 'living will'. Your requests shall be fulfilled.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Ginger,
I can sympathise with your dilema, I too should be facing it, and making some arrangements. I wouldn't like to think of a machine keeping me alive, so I think I would want it turned off, but all the other stuff, I still don't know.
I have never heard of an Advance Directive, but it is a sensible idea.

MAGGI said...

We can't always wait to make that decision though can we? I don't want my family suffering anymore than necessary. Good thinking Ginger!

Emily Pikkasso said...

hey Ginger, I know where you're coming from. However, I am caring for my 81 year old mother at home right now and I am very gratfull that she has made her wishes clear. She had indicated strongly that she is DNR (Do Not Resusitate). This makes it easier for me if she is unconscious or incapcitated with no real hope of recovering. For myself, i will do the same for my kids. I already know I want cremation. It's different for everyone. Nancy

Cheryl said...

I keep thinking about these things too, and I'm only 41. I guess it all comes down to me wanting to feel prepared.

Look at it this way, now that it's done, it will be off your mind.


Lisabet Sarai said...


I sympathize with your dilemma and applaud your courage in facing these questions now. It will make things so much easier for your children and/or husband.

I know that my husband and I have quite different ideas about these issues. I've heard of enough "miracle" returns to consciousness after long comas that I wouldn't necessarily want life support shut off for quite a while. My husband, on the other hand, would like me to shoot him if he becomes senile (of course I wouldn't '^) )

My will says cremation (so I don't take up valuable land) and then a party for my friends... not a funeral. I hope that when I die I have enough money to throw a big bash.


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