I’m still plugging away at completing the old advance directive I started way back in February. I know a lot of people say just do it….
Just. Sometimes I hate that word.
Although frankly, I didn’t think it would be that big a deal when I started either. But clearly, my inertia is telling a different story. The hubster and I actually filled out the forms months ago and, as expected, that part really wasn’t a big deal. We educated ourselves, we weighed our choices, we made our decisions, and we wrote it all down.
It’s the next step that’s killing me. All the follow-up conversations I’m supposed to have with loved ones, alternate medical proxies, and anyone else who’s likely to get involved if I ever hit the point where I can’t make medical decisions for myself.
Fear is a powerful, powerful thing.
But finally, last week I sat down with the friend I’ve asked to be my medical proxy in case the hubster can’t do it and we started feeling our way through the labyrinth together. It was a fascinating conversation and helped me to really boil things down to my own bottom line. After some initial flailing and panic while trying to explain, there were a couple of important realizations I came to that helped settle me back down.
A FEW BASIC TRUTHS ABOUT MYSELF:
1) What happens to the hubster and kids during that kind of crisis is as important to me as whatever is happening to me. I love them and I don’t want their needs or wishes disrespected or ignored anymore than mine. Even though it’s not my first choice, I’m absolutely willing to go through some additional suffering and linger for a while longer if they need the extra time.
2) Money is a very big issue for me. I do not…DO NOT…want a massive wealth transfer happening at the very end so that nothing’s left afterwards for the hubster and kids. So don’t anybody feel guilty about considering the financial consequences of any decision. In fact, feel guilty if you don’t.
3) Control is an illusion. All I can do is try and communicate now the best I can. In the end though, whatever is going to happen, will. I need to try and remember that, breathe, and surrender again. (And again and again and again.)
4) The one, single, most important, overriding principle I need everyone to remember and steer by is this: I’m more afraid of being overtreated for dying than I am of dying from it.
So in a choice between erring on the side of choosing too little intervention or choosing too much, always, always, always err on the side of too little. I’ve lived a huge and magical, unexpected life full of wonder, surprises, love, companionship, adventure, learning, and near constant amazement. From a distance, I haven’t really minded the pain all that much. If I was to go tomorrow, I’m so very, very, very good and grateful with it all.
So the bottom line is you don’t have to worry about cutting me short. You can’t. It’s impossible. Honestly? I kind of can’t believe I made it this long. You guys just take whatever time you need…(just again, sometimes I love that word)…to get your hearts wrapped around the whole thing and say your good-byes, and then let me go.
And remember…I love you. I’ve always loved you and I always will. There are some things that can’t be killed.
copyright Dia Osborn 2012
as you know I work on itu
so any of our patients are older people ( the demographic of our area)
and so many seem to have everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them ( medically that is)
sometimes common sense has to rule and people need to be able to die with the minium of medical fuss and the maximum of good nursing fuss
does that make sense?
That’s exactly what I was trying to address!!! I saw it in my work, too, how much useless treatment people were put through before they got to us, often procedures or medications that only made them suffer even more than they already were! I admit I’m kind of terrified of that happening to me if I can’t say no for myself but that’s where I have to breathe and let go. 🙂
I suspect most of us who’ve worked around it and seen it happening would make different choices than the majority of people seem to be making these days, y’know? At least that’s my sense.
Words of wisdom, as usual. But mostly, I’m pleased to realize that you haven’t wrapped up the advance directive yet. Not pleased for you…pleased for me. I printed all of that out so I couldn’t lose track of it. It sits on my desk, under a pile of papers. Every time i get the desk cleared off, I leave that stapled booklet staring back at me with challenging attitude. “Now, I’ll have time to tackle it…..” Then another paper drops on top, beginning a new pile. Good intentions, horrible execution. It makes me feel an inkling better to know that I’m not the only one struggling with completion. (Although, to be honest, I haven’t even jumped out of the starting gate yet.)
I can totally relate. Would you like to sit down together with it? I’d be happy to…it made a huge difference with Cal and I doing it together. The conversations were fascinating.
Very kind offer, Dia. I really have no aversion to doing it, I simply haven’t had the time to clear my head and still my mind so I can sit down and concentrate on it. I feel like I’m treading water in the middle of Crater Lake. I race from one task to another and try to fit little pieces in here and there, like catching up on blogging. I need two of me!
Oh thank god. I’m buried too. :-)!!
I do so love reading your writing. Well done! What eloquent common sense…
Hey there—always great to hear from you. Thanks!