Throughout my 10 years of service as an RN with Hospice and 20 plus years in the nursing field in general, I have been exposed to a vast array of situations and outcomes which have shaped my current view on medical care during end of life, including insurance coverage and the various types of forms designed to guide treatment and decisions along the way.
I have seen these preparations serve both as a guide for care and also as an obstacle needing to be overcome. If the dialog, interpretation, and enforcement of these documents alone will not ease suffering or maintain a safe, comfortable environment for patients – due to legalities and malpractice concerns – there has to be a change in our approach to these situations. In this NYTimes article, there is a very dramatic accounting of the exact obstacle documents can sometimes create. And having been in the moment and present during countless deaths, where there are no panels of discussion, review boards, or appeal courts, suffering is only witnessed with eyes of empathy and love.
The need for all the clinical and legal forms remains unchanged by the fact that forms are sometimes an obstacle. What can be altered is making the choice to have the courage to discuss the outcomes of advancing age, worsening disease and potential consequences of sudden life-altering trauma. No one wants to talk about the “negative” stuff. Yet the majority of our lives, after we reach our 30s and 40s, seems consumed with it. Conversations between two reunited old acquaintances become more about doctors, medications, hospitalizations, recent surgeries, and limitations due to failing health than about social gatherings, future plans for travel, and entering new adventurous careers. That’s just life, right? And so wouldn’t conversations about healthcare decisions and ultimate death be appropriate at this same time in our lives?
Caring Choices urges everyone to stay in the moment. Realize the importance of loving discussions with gentle kindness can make a difference for you and your loved ones. Even the loneliest soul on earth has the right to live their life in safety and comfort. Right up to the moment it ends. Talking with your family, doctor, caregivers, and legal counsel can only help to assure that somebody will do everything that you want in the way that you hope.
CaringChoices (c) 2015