Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

A matter of life and death.

A hospital setting is an awful place to have conversations.  Small talk usually isn’t anywhere to be had on the menu.  Topics range from the body’s input and output (yes, even the guests pitched in on this one. Especially the over-70 crowd, oddly obsessed as they are with bodily functions); the disease history of one’s family (those half-siblings you half ignore do count, you know); whether the fact that the majority of medical terms are in Italian could be part of some great conspiracy (these being the after midnight/after Ambien chats) and Advance Health Care Directives.

 

Ouch.

 

Seems like people would rather natter on about the frequency of their BM’s over a cafeteria lunch tray of Salisbury Steak than broach the touchy subject of an Advance Directive.  Some people delay discussing it all together, until it is too late.  Or, nearly so.

 

Five years ago I was called upon to carry out the Advance Directives of someone who was terminally ill and wished to have no heroic measures taken and I followed his wishes to a “T.” (it is, after all, who I am).  This task was met with some pretty ugly opposition by one of the man’s family members, who disagreed with his very firm wishes and called me “cruel and heartless” along with some other unsavory titles.  Still – I stood firm and did what was asked of me, even if some of the choices were at odds with what I believed.

 

Now, after having spent over a week in the hospital and nearing an age that is a half a dozen keys shy of a grand piano, the Grande Dame that is my Maternal Unit has to face the daunting task of making life choices of her own.  She has not yet put pen to paper, but is very vocal about what she wants in the matters of health care.  “Boy, if something ever happens to me, you’d better make sure they use every possible lifesaving device there is!  I want all the bells and whistles the medical field has to offer!”

 

This is a woman who has spent her entire life in the eye of the storm, watching as chaos ensues all around her, as people and projects spin madly out of control.  It makes an awful lot of sense that she wants to make sure all of the cosmic plates keep spinning, no matter what.  I have assured her that not only will all bells and whistles be employed, I will make stuff up if I have to (should there not be enough action for her), and hook up car batteries to klieg lights and roll her into the center of a Las Vegas casino.  These are not concurrent with my views, but it is not about me, it is about whatever she wants – I will do whatever she requests.  The thing is: it must be verbalized, written out and attended to by an attorney.

 

It is interesting to me that people of a certain generation have different ideas about life and death.  Being statistically smack in the middle of my own life, my views about death may change – but for now, they’re wildly different than the adults I grew up with.  My mother-in-law couldn’t even use the “C” word, even after having been diagnosed herself.  Cancer was almost as verboten a topic as s-e-x wass and it irritated her that because of pancreatic cancer we needed to discuss burial plans, wills and Advance Health Care Directives.  My peers are much more candid about all of the above (and sometimes a little bit TMI about the s-e-x), but even they are somewhat squeamish about Living Wills.

 

Life and death.  Not a typical topic to bring up over tea and scones, but critically important nonetheless.  Illness is not reserved for the elderly and it has struck every corner of my existence and the people I know, young and old.  Cancer, diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, aneurysms, car accidents – a long laundry list of life-changing events, bringing the subject of “What will we/I do in the event of?…"

 

So, one of my resolutions for this year is to encourage everyone I know to sit down with a strong pot of tea (or beverage of your choice) and make some decisions, while you are of sound mind and body, about what you would want in the event that your body and mind defy you, making it necessary for someone to speak and act on your behalf.

 

In most states, Five Wishes is a legal document (once signed and notarized) that you can procure to help you.

 

Wish 1: The Person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t.

Wish 2: The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want.

Wish 3: How Comfortable I Want to Be.

Wish 4: How I Want People to Treat Me.

Wish 5: What I Want My Loved Ones to Know.

 

It is my wish, that each and every one of us will have such a document put away, in the event of…

 

My greater wish is for continued health and happiness as the year progresses.  [Well, that and that my peers never get fully comfortable discussing their BMs. Except with medical professionals.  Just sayin’.]

 

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