19 November 2012

Day 19: ... and so soon we are gone

Day 19 – Monday, Nov. 19
Questions I have for for other patients
Write about: Life and Death

I've read several horrifying tales in the news recently about people in NHS hospitals being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway, an protocol for giving palliative care for patients in the last hours or days of life. The scary part is that hospitals have financial incentives to use this pathway, and too often, families are not consulted. Patients have their files marked 'Do Not Resuscitate' when that was not the decision they or their families had made about them.

It sparked me into looking at the procedures for making an advanced medical directive, in case I end up in a situation where medical decisions are being made on my behalf. It seems that my right to ask the hospitals not to resuscitate me is enshrined in law, but that there doesn't seem to be an equivalent legal form that says, "Hey! I want to live! Fight for me, dammit!" I'm not saying it would be wrong to disconnect me from life support if I'm brain dead or if the chance of ultimate survival is low. If that time comes, I trust my husband or whatever family members are there making the decision, to do what their best judgement says is right. I simply do not want strangers to make choices about my life in order to meet a quota.

I intend to talk to my GP about it and have it put into my medical records that I value my life. I will value it if I'm in a dark room unable to bear noise or light. I will value it if I'm in a hospital or nursing home. I can't imagine any situation where I would consciously choose euthanasia for myself. One day I will die, and I hope that it happens in a way that causes the least amount of suffering for everyone. But as long as I can, I want to live. And my husband and I have agreed that we will fight for each other, as long as there is hope.

Life is good.


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