Advance Directives Are Not Written In Stone

1 year ago

As I write this, I am thinking I may stir up some feelings. Please remember my goal is to give you something to think about.

Filling out an Advance Directive when you are healthy is different than filling one out when you are elderly or living with a serious illness.

When we are healthy we look at life differently. We operate from an intellectual perspective. We think “if I am faced with a life threatening illness or am in a medical situation where I can’t be fixed, I don’t want a lot of tubes and machines keeping me alive. If I am not able to participate in life, just let me go”. OR we think “The doctors can fix almost anything. Use whatever means needed to return me to my life”. In the young and healthy, death is an abstract idea; it will come someday, but surely not now or soon.

When we are not healthy, we tend to react from an emotional perspective. “I’m scared. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life like this. Make me a no code so this will be over.” OR, “I’m scared, work your magic to fix me. Do whatever it takes to make me well.” The decisions we make are no longer abstract ideas. They are real and current, happening in the now.

When my stepfather was told he had a life threatening illness I talked with him about an Advance Directive. He told me, “if I have had no brain activity for three days you can pull the plug.” Four months later when he was in the hospital fighting for every breath he told me he was ready, no more. Objective vs subjective thinking. 

There is no right or wrong answer to whether a person is a no code, a “do not try to fix me if I stop breathing” code; or a full code, a “do everything medically possible to keep me breathing” code. What is important is to make your wishes known, so your healthcare can be what YOU want, not what others want for you and themselves.

Advance Directives are not written in stone. They are changeable whenever you want to add more information, when life circumstances have given you a different perspective. An Advance Directive is your voice when you cannot speak for yourself. It is changeable whenever you have different thoughts.

Something More about…  Advance Directives Are Not Written In Stone

 If you are caring for a special person who is facing a life threatening illness, I encourage you to use my guidebook By Your Side, A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home. It is full of knowledge and support for providing care at home. It is written for the caregiver. This 72 page, spiral-bound guidebook addresses end of life choices (life sustaining, comfort care), advance directives, and funeral planning.

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Jordan M
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