Saturday, November 19, 2011

Going in style

We all want to go in style - none of this sitting on a nursing home porch with drool running down your chin for seven years, but to be the one sliding to a stop with a drink in one hand and a tan left from a tropical vacation - saying 'yee-haw, that was fun'. Unfortunately life doesn't always let us do that. As a second best effort, we can make out a living will that tells what we want. (What am I on a morbid kick? No. And I have no plans on going anytime soon, but I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. I call it being practical.)

A few weeks ago, when I was passing through the hospital lobby on the way to an appointment (what a novel experience, it hadn't happened for at least a couple days), there was a group of nurses sitting at a table distributing information and answering questions on living wills and health care proxies. I have been asked about these a few times by my doctors - they just want one in my medical file. (But where are they going to keep a piece of paper in their electronic records system - it sound likes it defeats the purpose.)

I did fill one out once and get it witnessed and its someplace around here. The one question I did ask the nurses is once you make out your living will, what are you supposed to do with it once you have it? The answer is - keep the original, give a copy to your doctor, and give copies to those you designate to be decision makers. That was helpful.

But I digress. I like the idea of having a living will. I like the idea of having a plan - I am a planner, ask my husband, it drives him crazy. I think I want to plan a big bash when I am going. It will be before I go because I want to be there. You can have another one after I am gone if you want, but I want one last bash.

More than that, I want to plan my going. Through my job at the cancer support center where they have an Advanced Cancer Support Group, I have learned about a program called Aging With Dignity, where you fill out a form called Five Wishes. In this you answer these five questions:

1. The person I want to make medical decisions for me when I can't.
2. The kind of medical treatment I want or don't want.
3. How comfortable I want to be.
4. How I want people to treatment.
5. What I want my loved ones to know.

Not only does it ask the questions, it helps you answer the questions as well. It includes medical, spiritual, emotional, and personal issues. And it is accepted as a living will in many states. And it tells you how to make changes at a later date, etc. Its very practical. It involves planning - I like that (even if its only to drive my husband crazy).

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