Flashback Monday – You May Be Prepared, But Does Anyone Know What You Want?

Welcome to Flashback Monday. This post is from July 2010 and deals with the reality of life, and death …

You May Be Prepared, But Does Anyone Know What You Want?

Posted on July 22, 2010

doctorI have always lived my life in the happiest way I know how, not taking life or myself too seriously, I always try to find the funny side of a bad situation, and that always has helped me get through it.

When I was diagnosed with heart failure, at the same time realizing that my sarcoidosis had spread to my heart, I had to have an AICD (defibrillator) implanted into my chest, and not long after that, I was joking around with my wife telling her that when I die, it would be like the movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s”, and my AICD would keep shocking me back to life. I started to call myself ICD Man, he who would never die. In a macabre way, we both found that to be hysterical, and we still joke about it. Some people may think that is too morbid to be joking about, but that’s how we deal with stuff, with humor.

Sometimes, however, humor can be reality. We were watching an episode of Nurse Jackie one night, and a patient with heart failure was admitted to the hospital, and slowly, his organs, one by one, began to give out. He was passing away. He had an AICD implanted, and every time his heart gave out, the AICD would shock it back to life, not allowing him to die. The staff at the hospital explained to his partner that the only way to prevent this, and allow him to die, was to deactivate the AICD by placing a large magnet on it. The poor man’s life partner didn’t want to do that, so the AICD would just keep going off, for however long the battery lasted.

In such a situation, it is best to have a living will otherwise known an “Advanced Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Health care”, that will outline all of your wishes as far as the length to which you want the hospital to continue life support. That way, the hospital knows what YOU want. It’s all well and good to have the documents, but how is the hospital to know what you want. Suppose the person in possession of your instructions is themselves indisposed or unreachable. There is a simple solution to that.

When you get your Advanced Directive, or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, be sure to get it notarized and have a copy sent to your regular doctor and ask him to put it in your permanent medical file. If you have multiple doctors, then it might be best to send a copy to each of them to keep on your permanent file. Then, create a small card, which you can have laminated, and keep it in your wallet with your driver’s permit, pretty much like an emergency alert card, which let’s people know that you do have a living will, and the name(s) of the doctor(s) that has it.

If you have a chronic illness, bets are that one day you will end up in hospital and wouldn’t you like to be taken care of how you want to?

UPDATE: I recently bought at CVS a wallet size USB flash card that contains all your emergency information, as well as an area for your living will and durable power of attorney for health care. It is made by CVS

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