By Christopher Greem
My Mother-in-Law went before one of those so-called Death Panels about ten years ago. It was very ominous. The attorney who took care of explaining what it was she was filing out asked a few questions and then with cool calculating almost cruel precision, he had it notarized and Betty’s Living Will was now a legal document.
Betty is a very savvy person who wanted to always take charge of her own life, always be on top of what it was that was going to happen to her. She had talked to her Doctor, a man she trusted, and she set out her wishes if she happened to take ill and was not able to make decisions on her own.
This document has turned out to be a godsend for us, the one’s she is about to leave behind. It is very emotional to watch as someone you love fades with each breath they take. And it is the living will that protects us from having to make tough decisions that are really for us and not for her. Especially in a heightened emotional time like we are in now.
People all over the country face situations just like this each and every day. What is different for us is my MIL took control of the last moments of her life. We did not have to make rash decisions that could very well haunt us to the day we toss of that mortal coil. We don’t ever have to ask ourselves did we do enough.
Betty took that kind of grief away from us so we could celebrate here long and fruitful life without any tinge of regret or remorse or guilt. We followed her wishes.
What made these last few days poignant for me was the way her body was shutting down. Betty had aspirated some food that she was too weak to cough up. It quickly developed into pneumonia and at that point, there was no real hope.
By her wishes spelled out in her Living Will, my MIL was to be made comfortable, but with no intrusive care to prolong her life. She is now comfortable with the help of Hospice Care and drugs that made her last few days as pain free as possible. It is what they call comfort care.
Now I could very well be in a similar situation given my respiratory problems. This could happen to me if I have to be put on the transplant list and my situation deteriorates due to yet another round of pneumonia.
I could sympathize with Betty as she gasped for air, almost panting. I have been that sick and I have been that weak. One time I was so pigheaded about going to the hospital that I had Laurie bring me a half-gallon jug so that I could relieve myself without having to struggle just to get to the bathroom.
I know better now.
Given my condition and my relative health, I could probably survive another bout or two. But I know how fast respiratory situations can sap your energy. I also know that I am not getting any younger. One strong bug like the one I had last fall and I could quickly be a donor instead of a potential donee.
So to save my family the grief, I am going to set-up a preemptive appointment with one of those Death Panels. I want control over my live. Even when I am dying.
More about Living Wills here… http://www.alllaw.com/articles/wills_and_trusts/article7.asp