Families Must Deal With End-of-Life Issues Before It?s Too Late

September 19, 2009
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GUEST POST – When I was growing up, my parents laid down the guidelines of behaviors and responsibilities, conveyed both explicitly and implicitly.

Like many families, we were busy living life to the fullest. I never heard of the phrase ?living will? or giving ?advance directives to physician? until a few years ago.

My folks told me about elderly relatives and friends they knew who ?lingered? in a vegetative state, and said they didn?t want to be artificially hooked up to machines if there was no hope of a solid recovery.

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My dad lived to age 87, and was up and about until the last three weeks of his life. Thankfully, he died with the quiet dignity he wanted.

In August 2003, I was a pedestrian crossing a street in Wichita when a man and his wife were gawking and talking inside their car ? and they ran a red light and hit me.

The impact broke my leg and I had internal injuries, including bruised ribs.

My mom saw the accident from a distance. She was brought to the hospital to see me ? but the sight of me being banged up and bruised was too much for her to take.

She had a massive stroke inside my hospital room ? and she died four months later at age 81.

I wasn?t able to see her much during that time.

I was discharged and forced to do my recovery elsewhere, more than 200 miles away.

The doctors told me even if I was there at her bedside 24/7, there was nothing more I could do.

I did permit my mom?s twin sister in Colorado to advise me on the surgeon wanting to insert a stomach feeding tube.

It was done; but my mom did, in fact, ?linger? for four months.

Although distant famliy members hoped in vain for a monumental miracle, it was only a four-month postponement of agony and the inevitable passing.

That somewhat vindicated me.

I think the phrase ?living will? scares people.

Society needs to realize families have pacts.

If final guidelines were described as ?written directives, pacts or wishes? ? more people might document the wishes they assume will be carried out within the family.

? Sincerely,

James A. Marples,

Esbon

Source: The Kansan.com

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