My grandmother lived three years longer than she wanted to. Blind, unable to care for herself, surrounded by strangers and missing her husband, she told anyone who came by her bed that she wanted to die.
Her care was excellent, so good that it kept her going when she no longer wanted to. Seeing her so miserable was a huge lesson in how powerless I was to help her and how much I didn’t want my life to become unbearable.
When I began reading the Advanced Healthcare Directive questionnaires, I suddenly realized I had the power in my hands to let my doctors, family and friends know exactly how I wanted to be treated in the end stages of my life. I decided to fill out the questionnaires and forms provided by Y Collaborative – which were incredibly easy to complete – got them notarized and then took them with me when I next went to the doctor.
I handed them over to the nurse as she took my weight and height and she put them with the rest of my file for the doctor to see prior to meeting with me. When my doctor entered the examining room, she was almost in tears. “This is what we always hope for, but never get.”
Now I can rest easy, my doctor has a complete set of instructions, my husband has one, they are on a flash drive and stored in the cloud. When I’m next in the hospital, I’ll give them a set too.
I may not know when I will need the information, but I can relax knowing that if I can’t speak for myself, my documents will let everyone know what I do and do not want for my care. To the greatest extent possible I now have control that my grandmother didn’t.
By Christine Miles