Making End of Life Decisions

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Today I am going over my affairs. I am deciding my living will choices and having a difficult time. Not because I can not find someone to make the difficult decisions for me, but because it is something I do not want to think of. Regardless of who I pick, they will have an immense responsibility. It is not easy making decisions for someone else’s life, even if you know what they want. Do I want to hand that burden to someone? I do not want anyone to feel bad over choices they may have to make. I know this, because I was that person once. For me, once may be more then enough.

My mom picked me to be her power of attorney for health choices. May have been the right person for the job, simply based on my own health history and my knowledge of hers. She picked my sister to take care of her finances, and that was definitely the right choice. However, having her life rest, partially, in my hands was daunting. I did not want to fail her. I did not want to make all the choices that I had to. Thankfully, my sister, family, and friends were there to support me.

She was angry towards the end. Not right when she woke up out of her deep sleep, but right after she realized how long she had been in one. She had struggled with her health over the last few years and it was truly getting to her. She didn’t like all the limitations she had. My mother was stubborn and feisty – no one told her what to do and God forgive us for even suggesting.

She went in for a simple procedure that turned into a not so simple procedure and came out of it three weeks later. It was touch and go from the beginning. When they asked me about putting her through her surgery, it was a choice of making her comfortable and letting her die or giving her a chance at life. I was alone then, minus the very supportive hospital staff. My sister was miles away, trying to make her way back. My husband was at work. They needed to know right away and I made the decision to try and sustain her life.

I knew she didn’t want extraordinary measures, was this extraordinary? What kind of daughter would I have been if I didn’t even have them try to save her? What would I tell my sister? My children? Her sisters and friends? We almost lost her during surgery. At 45, would I be considered an orphan? I felt like it.

Over the next few weeks, we watched the ebb and flow of one seriously ill. Our hearts would break and mend and, then, break all over again. At first, when she woke, she was jubilant. She couldn’t speak or write, but she tried and we tried understanding. Then, when she discovered how long she had been under, she was angry. She was a nurse and she knew her odds. We had no trouble understanding her then.

I had to pick an acute care facility for her. I did not want to send her to one, but the hospital didn’t give me that choice. I knew she would look at it as a bad thing. She always felt that putting her grandmother in one is what killed her sooner. She promised she wouldn’t do that to her mother, yet, she did. She was in no health to take care of her. My grandma died soon after. I worked in one of those facilities. I know the pros and cons of them. I just knew how she would view it and I wasn’t happy with it.

Once there, they spoke with her, in front of me. They asked what she wanted as far as care. She let them know that she did not want them to revive her heart. She saw what happened to her dad, now it was her turn. I asked if she was sure. She said yes. Then, I did my best of hiding my feelings and signed her life away. That’s what it felt like to me. Doesn’t matter that it was her request, her wish. Months later, I still cry when thinking of that day. Soon after, her heart gave out.

Is this what I want for someone else to go through? Not in a million years. They will have to be clearer then clear as to my wishes. Even then, it won’t be easy for them. There are people I trust, with different strengths and attitudes. I am not afraid for myself. I am for them though. My children are too young to make the decision. My husband should be concentrating his energy towards helping them. Those are the people I have to think of first. Then I have to think of the one who may be at odds with others over their decisions, because, in the end, it may boil down to them. Whoever they are, I never want anyone to think they just signed my life away – not even knowing that may be my wish.

5 responses »

  1. Wow…that was beautifully written! I do not envy you of having to make those decisions. I was fortunate enough to not have to, if you can call it fortunate…we didn’t have a choice, Dad had cancer and was dying. I was, however, around when Billie and family had to make choices…it’s tough. We knew Roger wouldn’t want to live that way.

    I have been thinking about my end of life choices recently, too. I don’t want to burden people with making choices, but I feel as if I am clear in the choices I make, all they have to do is follow those choices. My difficulty will be can I trust them to do what I want them to do?

  2. Thank you. Ask for an Advance Directive from your local hospital. You may be able to find them online. Once that is filled out and signed by the proper people, you send copies to various friends or family that you trust. They have to follow your wishes and the hospital will ask if you have a Living Will or Advance Directive.

  3. Here is a link for anyone interested in the forms or more information regarding Advance Directives:
    http://www.columbia-stmarys.org/advance_care

    It may be of help, but I do not necessarily endorse this site. It is beneficial for you to ask your attorney or doctor for direction in regards to advance directives, or to search the information out for yourself. It is important to be comfortable and well informed on your choices.

  4. I and also my friends happened to be following the best tips and hints found on your website and so then I got an awful suspicion I had not thanked the blog owner for those techniques. All of the young boys are actually totally thrilled to read all of them and have in effect in actuality been tapping into these things. Appreciation for getting well accommodating as well as for deciding on this kind of cool things most people are really needing to be aware of. Our own honest apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner.

  5. Britt, I forgot, I do have an advanced directive. The Aurora Women’s hospital had me fill one out before my hysto. They made copies for me, but silly me I can’t remember where I put them. I’m sure they’re in an envelope hiding somewhere in my room. I will find them. Eventually.

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