Saturday, March 26, 2005

Get your ass to a lawyer

The sooner the better.

This whole Terri Schiavo business has about made me vomit, despite all the antiemetics in my little Spongebob box-o-meds. It has certainly highlighted the need to get your affairs in order and written down so that you and your family won't have to go through the same rigamarole in a similar situation.

Personally speaking, I wouldn't want to "live" the way Terri Schiavo has "lived" for the past 15 years. So, a lawyer friend of mine has agreed to draft matching Health Care Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care for Sarah and me. We'll have those signed, notarized, copied, and on hand when I go in for my post chemo lymph node removal surgery (I'm viewing surgery as somewhat of a certainty at this point). If necessary, we'll complete separate forms that conform to Indiana law (since the surgery would be at IU). Sarah will be my "Terminator" (if it ever comes down to that point), and I will be hers.

Your state bar or attorney general's office probably has resources for anyone who is interested. Missouri residents can look here for information about choices concerning end-of-life care. Laws vary from state to state, so check with local authorities on this stuff (for instance, in Missouri a "Living Will" cannot be used to withhold or withdraw artificial nutrition or hydration - only a health care directive can accomplish this).

It certainly involves a lot of introspection and discussion with your partner and family. You need to think about what kinds of treatment you want and don't want. It can be hard enough for folks (especially younger ones, myself included) to think about writing a will, much less planning for our own demise in a hospital. But I think it's each person's responsibility to himself/herself and his or her family to have these discussions and make these decisions to avoid future ambiguity and conflict.

Oh, and make a will while you're at it, especially if you have children. DO IT NOW.

This has been a public service announcement from someone experienced with intestate deaths (i.e., died without a will).


Andrew Molenda said...

I'm right there with you, we have a unique perspective as survivors.

Here's an excerpt from the LAF Manifesto that puts it very well:

We believe in life.
Your life.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in your right to live without pain and, if
it comes to it, your right to die with dignity.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Because we're passionate about helping you live every
minute of your life with every ounce of your being.