Sunday, January 17, 2016

Advance Directives and other really difficult things to think about

Have you filled out an Advance Directive yet? This is a short form that tells medical staff who gets to make decisions if something happens to you, and what you what done, and when you want to have it done. I have had one for many years, but haven’t updated it until today. While it was essentially saying the same thing, it was more difficult knowing that I was updating it because of serious surgery. I figure that if someone gets to stop my heart, I get to choose what happens after that.
Also, talking with your parents about what you want to have done really sucks. But it’s important to review this document with whoever you choose as your “agent” to clear up any miscommunication or terminology the person may not understand. It’s an emotional conversation, so take your time with it and be ready to answer tough questions. While I take after my mother and am “a tough ol’ broad,” I admit that filling out this form was sectioned away into my clinical brain in order to prevent too much emotion from spilling into my penmanship.

I’ve seen too many patients come in for a routine something-or-other and they didn’t have an Advance Directive. This has led to arguing amongst family members (in addition to the normal arguments) and angst when the patient is aware enough to realize what is going on. I’ve heard patients say, “I just don’t want to do this anymore,” and “can’t they understand this is my decision?” Well, if it’s not on paper, I don’t have anything to present to the family. Document that stuff, people!

It’s super easy to find the form online. Just type in your state and “Advance Directive” to be brought to the form. Fill it out, discuss it with your chosen agent(s), and have it notarized. If you don’t have it double-witnessed or notarized, there’s a chance someone will call it fake and then you’re right back where you started…. And if someone’s pulling your Advance Directive, you’re not in much shape to argue.

Just do it.





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