Just read in the Washington Post, my hometown newspaper, that there is a talk radio campaign attacking health care reform from another angle: They Are Trying To Kill They Elderly. Not just Granny, of course, but You, in a few years. Put simply, it pays doctors to review with people, every five years, whether or not they have end-of-life directives in place. This will not kill granny, or you. It will just spur you to act responsibly, so that whatever happens when you are unconscious or otherwise impaired is what you would have wanted to happen. This is the exact opposite of Kill Granny. It puts the responsibility on the individual, rather than on their bewildered family or on the doctor, who would ethically have to choose to spend, perhaps, a huge amount of money keeping an otherwise near-dead person who will never recover technically “alive.”
Let’s see . . . would you like to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for your family after you are close to legally dead? If you are ninety-five and go into a coma from which will most likely never awaken, is this what you would really want? Conversely, no one who might benefit from your death is allowed to witness your living will. You make it on your own, with a lawyer, sign it with notarization, lock away your original, and give your doctor and attorney a copy, and your family if you so desire.
Oftentimes, this amounts to the very simple expedience of removing feeding tubes and breathing apparatus. It might be hard for you to imagine, but often being alive is a burden to the very old, or to the termninally ill. They are in pain. They are suffering. They are ready to die. If you would like to have breathing apparatus removed but continue to be tube-fed and hydreated and turned to avoid bed sores, say so while you can.
The time for you to create a living will is now, while you have the control. You can go to the lawyer of your choice and write up a document, which you sign, have notarized, and pass out to everyone in your family, or download a free document and do the same. If you would like to live for years as a vegetable, this is the time to make your wishes known. Likewise, you can finely delineate various aspects of your end-of-life care and make these legally airtight. That is all that this is about: letting you know that you have the power to do this. Otherwise, it will not be in your hands. It will definitely be in the hands of your next-of-kin. They will have you declared incompetent, which you may well be, to handle your own affairs, and get durable power of attorney. If they love you, and know your wishes, and respect them, fine. Even if this is not the case, doctors are ethically bound to perpetuate life. They cannot choose to “pull the plug.”
Here is a randomly-found web site for those who live in North Carolina that goes over the issues clearly: http://www.ncbar.org/download/planningYourEstate/living_will.html#Rights . Living wills vary from state to state.
This got me thinking about how easy it must be to manipulate radio talk show hosts. Want Rush, Crowley, Boortz, or others to support your money-sucking private hospital, pharmaceutical company, HMO? Give them free stock, or coveted sports tickets, or a think-tank cruise on which their pov is aired. Whatever. Schmooze them royally. It would not be crooked for them to accept such bribes, as it would be for politicians. These are very smart people. Crowley has a Ph.D., for instance. However, one must realize that they are in the business of entertainment, as in keeping an audience stirred up and excited. They also have a bully pulpit. They control the comments, the agenda, the argument. They get people to strongly identify with them–on one issue, perhaps, and then they listen more, and, often without the critical tools or energy to fully research all the punching bags, they come over to the view that their favorite ranter is an expert on everything.
Right now, if you are in an HMO, your health care is not in your hands. It is in the hands of the bean-counter the HMO hired to keep costs down, and they usually get a BONUS for saving the company money! Really! They are NOT on your side.
Here is the Washington Post link that got me thinking: