I’m a LPN. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today was one of those days at work that made me shake my head and say, “WTF.”

Last time I checked, I didn’t go to medical school. Where does it say in the LPN (or even RN) bylaws that I’m even certified to make BIG decisions about someone’s status or if they should or should not be transferred to another floor…sigh.

This is going to sort of sound like a PSA for Living Wills, but please, bear with me.

If I get hit by a car tomorrow and am rendered a vegetable, I will kill anyone who tries to keep me alive “because my heart is still beating.” Bite me. Rather, pull the plug. I refuse to be laying in a bed, trapped in my own body, because someone can’t stand to see the physical Cassie go away. Selfish.

If I end up being eighty years old, yet spend my days staring at a wall and pooping myself, and end up having some life threatening things happen to me, you best believe I will lay in bed and take it. Again, I will kill anyone who will try to keep me alive.

My husband and I have a verbal understanding between each other as to what each of our wishes are. In case that wasn’t clear enough, now I have y’all as my witnesses. Plus, I have something called a Living Will filled out, verified, witnessed and signed by myself and husband at the doctor’s office.

As Mr. T would say, “I pitty the fool who doesn’t have a Living Will.” Well, he says that to some extent. Let’s get real here. For those of you who don’t have kids, who will be responsible for making that decision should you be rendered useless? What if your spouse is gone? What if you never got married? Nieces? Nephews? Neighbors? Could you imagine? Could you even fathom it? Someone else making decisions about your life. Your LIFE!

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you want the doctors and such to do everything humanly possible to keep you alive, then I say good for you. But get it in writing. Make it legally binding. Make sure that everyone short of your neighbor knows what you want.

Heaven help me if I become eighty something years old, laying in my nursing home bed, staring at the wall, happy as a clam with my DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, only to be transferred to a hospital, changed away from my DNR status to do a little bit more and all this done so because my doctor was on vacation. Better yet, heaven help that doctor covering for my doctor. I will come back, should they ever let me die, and haunt them for all eternity. Smite you for listening to my emotionally driven, not fully educated on the subject, crazy husband! My body. MY BODY!

I remember when I was a kid, my friend’s cat went away one day. I was so upset, so confused as to why it happened, but my friend’s dad said, “He was old. It’s what cats do. They go away and die. Just they way it should be.”

I don’t want to turn this into a political or moral debate, but fact over opinion, we keep people alive far longer than some bodies were meant to do. Far longer. Part can be blamed on physicians not informing patients and families enough about the true nature of their illness and quality of life. Some can be blamed on families just “wanting to hold on.” Others can be blamed on sheer ignorance. At times, it can be blamed on “new advances” that keep on popping up. Either way it’s frustrating.

I have a Living Will. My husband does, too. When my kids are old enough to understand, they will know what we want. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to be an invalid.

My favorite nurse practitioner said to me today, “The only reason I’ll EVER want a feeding tube is for the Merlot.”

Amen, sister. Amen.

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on August 6, 2010, in Cassie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Or the chardonnay… I really need have a living will. I’m sorry I haven’t done it before now. It always felt expensive and unnecessary, like going to Target instead of WalMart.

    • Mom, you can have a simple living will that doesn’t involve a lawyer. It’s a form your doctor should have that all you have to do is check boxes next to: “Would you want dialysis…yes…no…” “Would you want to receive blood products…yes…no…”

      Nothing regarding your life should be so expensive. Just make sure Carly and I know what you want (which I have a very good idea) and have Cynthia get you that form to fill out!

  2. Cassie, this is such an important issue and you brought it to light in a good way. Our bodies are simply not meant to live forever. To keep our loved ones alive beyond any quality of THEIR life is selfish. As for me, I am going with your friend’s line about Merlot. What a classic line! For me, though, I will change my living will to make it Licor 43 and to exclude at least one or two people I ‘used’ to know from coming anywhere near the plug before my time is up!

    • As is your right, Cher! You do whatever your heart wants as long as your heart is beating. Too often it’s over looked, forgotten, or put on the back burner. It worries me, and frankly, it’s one of the MOST frustrating things about being a hospital nurse.

      …97 year olds with no quality of life, feeding tubes, dialysis…where does it end?

    • Hey, you choose your liquor, girl. I’ll even swab out your mouth with it, too. No worries.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree. When my grandmother was at the end of her life, the horrific decisions I had to make were so much easier (if you can even use that word) because she’d had a living will drafted, and I knew what SHE wanted. It’s not something anyone WANTS to think about, but something we should.

  4. I agree. Everyone should take their “end game” into their own hands. Otherwise, it may be left to people whose only concern is how not to get sued.

    And who knows, if your case gets enough publicity, our politicians who want smaller government might just pass a law to decide things for you. Best to make your own arrangements.

  5. Deb from Harrisburg

    Hi Cassie, AMEN to your post. This subject is near and dear to my heart as I was the health care POA for my mother when she ailed and eventually passed away peacefully with the use of morphine once it was evident that there was no possible chance for her recovery. As an attorney I helped my mom make sure she had the appropriate documentation in place. We used the form available on the PA Dep’t of Aging web site which is a durable health care power of attorney and living will combined. This covers all situations — when a person is unable to make health care decisions for himself or herself whether or not the person has a chance to recover. There is a fine line, I learned, between making decisions when my mom was not able to decide for herself, but when there was still a chance for her recovery and once she crossed the line that she was not going to recover. Sometimes life prolonging decisions are made (such as installing a feeding tube) when the doctors still think there is a chance for the person to recover but is then removed when the person is not going to recover, in order to honor the person’s living will. In any event, here is a link to a standardized living will in Pennsylvania and also for a health care power of attorney, all in one document. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=616385&mode=2 select Understanding Advance Directives for Health Care. I have to state the usual legal disclaimer that I’m not providing legal advice to anyone and am providing this information as a FYI and people should consult their own attorney of choice if they have any questions on this subject. Hope this information helps.

    • Thank you SO MUCH for your input! I totally agree with everything you said 100%. Thank you for the link, too. It’s hard being a POA, I see it all the time, but it needs to be done and it needs to addressed. Thanks again.

  6. This is one of my biggest issues with being a nurse. I agree with everything you said. And was it my cousin Tricia that said she’d want a feeding tube for Merlot? Sounds like her.

  7. Maybe that will be my first tattoo: Pull the plug! Finally, a tattoo with a purpose.

  8. Thank you so much for this. I *think* I have a living will on file somewhere, but just in case, I need to fill out another.

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