Sunday, May 23, 2010
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.