Wednesday, August 04, 2010

brain death vs heart death and DNR

This story "What broke my father's heart" in the New York Times made me cry when I read it. I remembered a feeling that I had many years ago, when I watched my grandmother in her hospice bed.

I remember talking about the guilt for a long time afterwards. The feeling that I had that "it has to be over soon" ... and I wasn't even talking about a long time, not in comparison to others.

And this story reminds me about another blog post about Alzheimer's (as well as about a friend of mine whose father had early onset Alzheimer's and what that did to her family). And the whole issue of "living the life" and what we humans can create nowadays.... now, when we have lovely medicine that help so many so much. But sometimes it creates these problems. And the decisions that are made, maybe not intentionally but they turn out to be "for our own good"... rather than the good of the other one.

I'm not trying to say we should stop invention or use of modern medicine. But just maybe, sometimes we should slow down.. and make the decisions a bit slower when we are allowed to think about the consequences of our decisions.

And if nothing else, that we all should contemplate the "Living will". If something were to happen to you, what do you wish would happen to you? Resuscitation? DNR? Organ donation? Medical research? All organs intact? And even more simple decisions what would happen with the body.... cremation or not? Spreading of ashes? Or not? Church services? Where? What?(And here where I am currently living they have a tradition of open casket and a viewing.... yeah... It's very non-familiar to me.)

I have had these talks with my parents. I mean, they have told me what they want for themselves. Actually, we have talked about it a bit too often for my liking. Funny enough (it's not funny at all but I can't think of another word), when I voiced my thoughts they replied "but you will not die before us so you need to write it down for someone else" (at the time I silently wondered who would be the one to take my thoughts and wants... since I did not have someone who had shared my life for 30 odd years like they have). I guess it will be someone involved with my life in the future when I finally die? That said, I made my first will when I was 23.

Why? Well, I was abroad in a foreign country and a few of my close friends back home came (well, come, I guess since it is still true) from not so fortunate upbringings and did not have too much money. And I didn't think my parents would want my savings and funds... (As it turned out, they both really want me to give my life insurance and other funds to someone I care about, and not them. As earlier mentioned, they really don't want to contemplate that I might accidentally end up dead before them. Since it is not "natural" I guess.)

So, along with all the other strange things I hope people talk about with their friends and loved ones - will and organ donations would be among that.

If you were in a car crash on the way to work tomorrow - would your wishes be known to your close ones? If not, please take a moment and think about it...

[on a side note, my Itunes turned on Placebo "Protect me from what I want" when I was in the middle of the post. Sounded fitting somehow.]


Alyssa said...

We've been putting off doing our wills. We meant to do them when we got married, but just haven't gotten around to it. Now that Baby G is on his way, we should really get on it. Thank you for this post!

ScientistMother said...

I couldn't read this. Mr.SM's GF is getting old. Soon we'll have to make these decisions, decisions I do not want to think about.

chall said...

Alyssa> I don't know if you refer to your wills as "who gets what when I die" or the living wills? but the first should be pretty straight forward since you are married... For me, it was mainly coming from a place where many people live common in law (meaning less rights with death) and not being in a relationship at all (someone apart rom my parents could benefit from my money). although, it's not a bad idea. Glad you thought the post was good (enjoyed? food for thought?) the post.

chall said...

SM> I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to cause bad feelings. It's just that it triggered some thoughts since I got reminded about my own grandmother and the things leading up to that. And the response my mother and father had to it all...

It's hard. And it's sad. I hope all goes well and all the best to you and Mr SM's family.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Oh, that was such a sad story. I needed to take a few minutes before I could come back here to comment.

I don't have a will, although I've been thinking about it and tried to persuade my husband once that we need to do it, but he's reluctant (a wee bit superstitious I think). It's easy enough if it's just one of us - the other one gets everything - but we haven't talked about anything beyond that. As for a living will, well, we both know what the other wants if anything like a head injury or a stroke happens - but nothing's in writing.

My parents have everything like a will, living wills, funeral instructions etc. in a floodproof, waterproof box in their bedroom closet. They first told my sister and me about it when we were in our late teens. They recently made my sister their executor because she's closer ("so be nice to your sister", said my Dad when he told me!) It's hard to talk about, but having everything in place makes things so much easier for those left behind.

chall said...

"It's hard to talk about, but having everything in place makes things so much easier for those left behind. "

yes. exactly. this was one of the reasons when my grandmother passed. she'd written down things and made it easier not to fight within the family. You know "she'd wanted this and that".... then again, you can never be sure.

I think I need to heed my own thing about living will though. I'm not sure someone knows what I want, partly because I didn't fill in a donation card here in the states. (back home though, I'm in the national registry so no thought there.)