Life is full of difficult questions. Which college or university should I attend? What career path should I take? Should I get married? Should we have children? The list is long, the decisions many.One question that should be answered sooner, rather than later, is: Who will speak for me if I cannot speak for myself?What? Already? Yes. If you are 18 years old, or older, you need to have an advance care directive in place. This will put into writing your wishes should you be in a life-limiting accident, or suffer a life-limiting illness. This can happen to anyone, at any age. Now is the time to answer this important question.It does not have to be complicated, or frightening. Friends of Hospice has all the information and forms you will need. You choose who will be your Health Care Agent (who will speak for you if you can’t), and sit down to discuss what is important to you. Do you want life sustaining treatment? CPR? A ventilator? Most people cringe when asked these questions. Yet, now, when you are able to make these decisions known, is the time to act. Many people have had experiences with loved ones and their last days on earth. Whether positive or negative, we can learn from these experiences. We can shape what we want our future end-of-life to look like, based on what we have seen and lived. A forum for people to share their stories can be found here: http://theconversationproject.org/your-stories/. The following experience comes from there.Whatever Comes Next By Linda
I had the conversation with my parent.
We had this level of care because we had the conversation. We didn’t have to tip-toe around difficult decisions. She could sign the cremation form while she had the mental capability.
When my mother Helen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer she went through all 5 of the stages of grief, oh, in about 10 minutes. “How are you Helen,” friends would ask. “I’m dying!” she said with absolute delight.
In the ten weeks she had left, Mom focused on making things right. She mended fences with neighbors and worked out differences with her daughters.
Always an active woman, we carried a wheelchair and morphine so Mom could continue her life of adventure. We walked in the mountains, we visited a park she helped found with a grand tour in a golf cart. She attended an art opening that included her paintings. Just days before she died we packed her off to water aerobics.
While some days were difficult, others were filled with humor. Just out of earshot, Dad showed off hardware he had bought to attach to her urn. Wanting to be part of the conversation she said, “Hey, I want to be in on that.” Dad answered, “Honey, you will be.”
One of Helen’s greatest gifts was to deal with death honestly, openly and with great humor. This approach meant that she enrolled in hospice immediately to access the gold standard of health care—no waiting at the clinic for pain medication, it was shipped to our door. Hospice answered many requests: a massage therapist for comfort, a harpist played by her bed, we had help with bathing, and a nurse was available day and night.We had this level of care because we had the conversation. We didn’t have to tip toe around difficult decisions. She could sign the cremation form while she had the mental capability. Please, create the ending you want. Have the conversation too. For whatever comes next.
Friends of Hospice holds Advance Care Planning workshops throughout Whitman County. The next one will be at Pullman Senior Center on March 2, 2017 from 9 AM-Noon. To register, call Steve at 509-332-1933, or Terrie Teare at 509-332-4414. We are also happy to meet with you individually and help you complete this important step.