As I was checking in this week for a routine medical procedure, I was asked
by the nurse if I had a living will. I was a little surprised because
although I do have a living will, I didn’t stop to think that I
might need it for this routine procedure. The answer of “yes, but
it is at home” seemed a little inadequate and not very comforting.
As we talked further about the living will and why it is important to have
one in place I realized that it probably would have been a good idea to
have brought a copy with me for the clinic’s file because in the
“what if” world that incapacity lives in, anything is possible
– even with a routine procedure.
A living will is the document that lets you say whether you do or do not
want to be kept alive by artificial means. The living will helps to avoid
the tragic stories you read about in which the question of would or wouldn’t
the patient want to be kept alive if there is no medical hope of recovery
divides family members.
Having a loved one in a situation that requires an answer to the question
of would or wouldn’t he or she want to be kept alive in this manner
is emotional and heart wrenching enough without adding the additional
stress and anguish that comes with not knowing the answer.
So, if you don’t have a living will in place, do your family a favor
and please consider taking the first step to putting one in place today.
Don’t wait until tomorrow because you might run out of tomorrows
before the right tomorrow to do incapacity planning arrives.
As for me, I have made a note to bring a copy of my living will to my doctor
during my follow-up visit so she can put it in her file. This way in the
future if I forget the living will in the craziness of everything else
I am doing to prepare for a medical procedure, at least the answer “it
is in my doctor’s file” will seem a bit more practical and
helpful than “it is at home”.