Observations by Key Monroe~~Home of Right Opinions, Cynical Viewpoints, and TMI in Hefty Doses
|E-mail: keymonroe [at] alltel [dot] net

March 31, 2005

Clean So Far

Haven't written about Schiavo, and I'm still not gonna.

However, I will write about my brother-in-law's brother, and how it is impacting my decision to draft a living will.

This young man was in a devastating car accident in October. No living will. His brain literally spun in his head.

The extent of the brain damage could not yet be assessed. He was comatose and fully dependent upon a feeding tube and respirator. The coma stretched from several days to several weeks...

Now. How is the living will to read? Is the plug pulled at this point? Is full recovery an option? (Doubtful, but a gray area.)

Consciousness was regained after a couple of months.

Presently...He seems to recognize people at times, tries to blow kisses, makes sounds, but does not meet the minimum requirements for therapy. He no longer needs the respirator, but is still dependent upon the feeding tube.

Sounds familiar, yes, but the doctors are not classifying this as a "vegetative state." Too soon perhaps.

This story has no end. He still lies in wait of a permanent diagnosis. His parents make the calls, as he had not yet wed his girlfriend. And not unlike the Schindlers, they will not be giving up on him. Ever.

What if he's still like this in a year? Is that any way to live? What kind of time frame do you put in the living will? How long do you give yourself in hopes of recovery?

As if not tragic enough, this story has a twist. While he lay in a coma, his girlfriend discovered she was pregnant. His first (and perhaps only) child is due in May.

Even had he known his own fate, I don't know how he could have drafted a living will.

Even now, if he could jump out of his damaged body long enough to make the call, how could he? End the misery or hope for a miracle?

This is beyond sad. This is a fate worse than death. There is no closure, as the family is in a state of constant mourning. Sure they visit, and they encourage until their spirit is drained. But the loss is ongoing.

Without the knowledge of this case, my living will would have been simple: If I'm unable to communicate in any form, I'm shitting my pants, and there's little to no hope for a full recovery, pull the plug.

But I look at this case, and I realize that had that been his living will, the respirator likely would have been pulled two weeks into that coma.

Would that have been better, or would it have been a complete waste? I don't know...

I don't know where to begin with this thing.

posted by Key on 05:55 PM | Comments (9)
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".. If I'm unable to communicate in any form, I'm shitting my pants, and there's little to no hope for a full recovery, pull the plug."

There's a real good cheap shot at Acidman in there somewhere, but I wouldn't take it.

Posted by: Anton at March 31, 2005 06:22 PM

That is not living. When the day comes, and I can't take care of myself, it will be time to check out. I do not want to rely on my family and kids to take care of me, let me go, Cat.

Posted by: catfish at March 31, 2005 07:28 PM

A terrible tale. No one knows where to begin these things. At least, if he lived in Florida, some unelected magistrate could take the decision out of everyones' hands. Down here you takes your justice where they shoves it.

Posted by: Velociman at March 31, 2005 08:09 PM

I don't think there is ever a RIGHT answer for that...just another option that seems better than the other.

God, that story is tragic. Life can be cruel, can't it?

Posted by: Dana at March 31, 2005 08:18 PM

My deceased wife Carrol, the love of my life, the angel who brought me to fullness of life, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 98, we never gave up and fought till her last breath, July 5, 2000, I expended ever resource we had, every dollar, every ounce of energy, was devoted to trying to win a losing battle. We knew we would lose, but we did not quit, and sometimes I think we prolonged her life and punished her with the pain she endured. The point being, it is a very personal journey and if you've not been there, I would think it might be difficult to understand.
Every time someone dies, a wife, a husband, a child, a father or a mother, a son or daughter, there is someone left to grieve. The question is “ Do we stop living and forever grieve?” or do we continue on, and live our life, as best we can, remembering the good we have been taught, while in the presence of those who have passed? I would guess the same could be said of divorce, where one or the other was deeply in love, but I am speaking of death, because that is the final chapter in any love story. Grief is a healthy thing, but it has its place. Grief is not to over take our lives and focus us on that one aspect of life. Grief is a feeling of loss and respect, also, love and sorrow. We have lost the one we loved, the one we respected and changed our lives to abide by their wishes and to gain their respect in return. We loved them so and are so sorry we did not convey the amount of love and respect we had for them. We all live, and we all love. Do we take every day and tell those we love ,how much we love them or do we wait till they are gone and then miss them and lament, and cry “I wish I had shown them how much I loved them!”

Posted by: ken at March 31, 2005 08:49 PM

I would agree with Dana above. Each case, to some extent, is different from another. My dad died of cancer a bit over 3 years ago. He died at home, as he knew (or was told) there was nothing more the hospital could do for him in the way of treatment, and did not want to prolong what he considered inevitable. Someone else might want to fight for every last second of life. But it would seem regardless of what the *survivors* might want or their hopes and fears regarding an outcome, the best way for an individual to let their loved ones (and medical personnel) know what their wishes are, is to get it in writing, be it a living will or a living trust.

As for you and your brother-in-laws brother, I wish there was a simple one size fits all answer. I do know such things (living wills/trusts) can be tailored to your exact needs and wants, and of course they can be updated as family situations and life changes. May you find a solution which fits your needs and wants the best.

Posted by: Guy S at April 1, 2005 02:06 AM

Perhaps the reason this is so very hard to address is because we love the injured party and because of that very love we want to see them recover and live out the rest of there time in a healthy happy manner. Sadly we often don`t get our preferences .I`m not sure there is one answer or one solution to this problem only that as long as someone loves someone there will always be hope and as long a someone loves someone there will be a desire for a brighter tomorrow. I pray I am never placed in this situation so if you love someone please get a living will and save them the grief of having to decide in front of a world wide media circus.

Posted by: arathorn at April 1, 2005 07:37 AM

Give me a giant shot of Versed, leave me alone, I will die by myself and fuck you do gooders! Push me in a bar ditch

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