Saturday, January 27, 2007

OF LIVING WILLS AND THE WILL TO LIVE

Amy (aka Aimless100) -- whom I seldom beat at internet scrabble and will never beat at online chat, repartee for repartee -- inspired this piece.

It was uncanny, Amy commented, that I wrote here how online buddies might never know if one of them just ups and goes (because as I quite unnecessarily put it, dying is one thing one will certainly do offline). She was bothered by that same thought last week and had forthwith asked one of her kids to go online and issue an obit of sorts -- once she "turns up her toes and tiles."

Great, I will give similar instructions to my own children -- I was about to reply. But on second thoughts , I think I just might do what I should have done years ago -- execute a LIVING WILL.

Have you ever agonized or watched as friends or relations agonized over a decision to plug or unplug?

I have.

Six years ago, over my friend Art's hospital bed -- where he lay comatose for days, kept alive only by life support systems -- his wife and siblings disagreeed on whether to pull or keep the machines that breathed for him. The doctors said it was all up to them, admitting at the same time that if Art lived he would just be a 'shell.'

After a few days, Art himself broke the impasse by breathing his last while still plugged on. Atta boy, he still took charge -- but not before his loved ones were traumatized.

As I grieved over the loss of this kindest and gentlest of friends, I selfishly worried over "when my time comes."

You see, I know quite a few families -- physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually and every-way spent by a dragging illness of a loved one, only to lose him despite heroic efforts.

I have since wanted to bargain with my God -- oh, please .. . I will do anything, give up everything, stop at nothing ... just please, oh please ... when you take me .. take me quickly, painlessly ... and don't let my family suffer.

But one doesn't bargain with God, does she?

But maybe God really does respond to our every need -- for shortly after, I read there was such thing as a LIVING WILL.

A living will, also called will to live, is an "advanced health care directive" covering course of treatment to be taken and in some cases forbidding treatment, should a patient be unable to give informed consent.

In my own living will, for example, I should be able to state, if I fell very very sick and could no longer express my treatment preferences:

-- That I reject artificial respirators, force-feeding tubes, and other life support systems that will keep me breathing but won't take me out of a vegetative state.

-- That I accept oxygen intervention, blood transfusions, intravenous medication and sustenance, but not after it is clear that chance for recovery is nil or almost nil.

-- That I reject visitors other than my immediate family.

In that living will I should also be able to appoint someone -- a like-minded proxy -- to direct treatment in my behalf through a power of attorney.

I should also be able to communicate my wishes regarding organ donation, cremation, or related arrangements.

And yes, I will ask my children to go online to inform scrabble and e-mail buddies that I have moved on to another site, a higher sphere.

I am told a living will is best signed, witnessed, and notarized. and then copies given to at least two people you trust.

I am told a living will is a perfectly legal document that should be honored by one's family and physicians.

But, alas ...

I am also told that many Filipino families seldom do. That families often go for extending the life of their sick -- regardless of means, regardless of costs, regardless of futility of the heroic effort, and regardless of what the sick has expressly WILLED.

Oh, well.

39 comments:

sexy mom said...

it's true, many filipino families seldom write living (as well as leaving) wills, probably because "death" is not openly discussed, even if it is inevitable. another factor is religious considerations. i, for one have not seriously thought about it. my only request to my friends is to ensure that my eyelashes are loaded on mascara and my favorite picture be posted in announcements of my death (i wrote those in my an earlier post - Sexy Mom-Bared!). now, i am thinking...

Brian Kastel said...

I was listening to a radio show some time ago about this issue, and the advice given was pretty downto-earth. Although in the US there are as many different procedures for creating living wills (also called "advanced directives") as there are states, the person being interviewed gave advice that made sense. My memory is not perfect, but I'll attempt a recap of the gist of it.

First, discuss your wishes with your spouse and family. Be gentle and understanding, so that they come to understand that the things you want are truly what you want. Then, if you have a primary doctor, discuss it with that person, also making sure that he or she understands your wishes. Finally, research the laws specific to your location, and create whatever documentation is required to support your expressed wishes. If all this is done, then you will leave as little as possible to the confused and helpless indecision of others.

Ed Q C said...

Wow ang ganda. Nice language. Rich breadth. and thats from a blogger himself. Some improvements: (1) invite others to contribute; (b) photos would be great; and (c) put in sponsors and other favorite and related blogs.

Hugs.

rhodora said...

LOL at SexyMom! I also told my husband - "In case I go ahead, make sure I have a good make up on, and hire the best corpse make up artist."

Anna, I think I will write a living will. Like you, I also have some online buddies, and at times I worry about how to let them know in case I'm already gone. Seriously! I don't want them waiting, guessing, wondering or even worrying about me if I can't go online anymore.

verns said...

hahaha truelalaloo...ang ending eh hindi pa rin susundin hehe :)

uhhhmm if I'll have a will, I don't know if I'll include DNR there. Anyway I also hope that when it's my time na, my family won't suffer too.

adele ordillas said...

Anna,
I am also thinking of writing a living will but have not yet gotten around to doing it. But I intend to do it before i go, siyempre. Below are my suggestions:
1) Give instructions as to how to go about claiming your benefits from GSIS,Philhealth, Pag-Ibig, etc...like burial benefits, refunds, etc..
2)Enumerate what you think is the most beautiful trait of each child; and husband, of course, if still alive. And tell each one why and how much you love them.
3) Say whether you want to be cremated, or whatever you want and how you want to go. Where you want to finally rest. If you want viewing or whatever; as in wake. How long? (Not necessary in that order.)
4) Whether you like it or not, your children will spend for hospitalization because you simply have to die in a hospital. Otherwise, papoproblema pa sa death certificate.
5) Be sure to have ready all birth certificates of each family member fro NSO,including marriage contract; if you survived husband. Those documents are needed for caliming benefits.
6) Ask children to immediate apply for death certificate from NSO; also for claiming benefits.
7) Make sure you donate to your children all real properties so they will not worry about inheritance tax. (Consult lawyer on this.)
Have I overdone it? Anyway, I'm sure I have forgotten some things. If you still want them, I'll try to remember them. Let me know.
yor will should be handwritten. It makes it weightier, I guess. Tila pag handwritten, di na kailangan inotarize. I don't know. Please ask a lawyer then pass on to me the info.
O, siya....
me

annamanila said...

Thanks to all you amazing people who contributed and will still contribute additional information on how to execute a living and (beyond living) will and make sure it is honored by those who will carry it out.

Adele, yes, tell us more if there is still more up your sleeves. Aaah that's a splendid idea -- to tell those who we leave behind how we love them.

Brian, yes, it should really help if we discuss issues and concerns with our family and doctors first. They will comply/cooperate because they understand.

Sexy Mom and Rhodora, LOL ... of course, we need to be sure we look our best for that last final glance at us. That is the one that they will remember. Otherwise, closed coffin na lang ano.

Verns, what's DNR? And thanks for truelaloo (another addition to my now-speak!)

vernaloo said...

DNR means Do Not Resuscitate...too much Grey's Anatomy and House you know hehe :)

Okay you are free to use that hehe

annamanila said...

aaah sooo ... vernaloo and verns are one and the same. Duh me.

And thanks -- i learned something new today. Should have known ha .. I once watched 7 episodes of House in one sitting (grabe -- naumay ako sa facial expression nya) .. from a CD brought home by my daughter who's a med stude.

kate said...

when my mother died, it was 1997. my aunts thought/decided i was very young to have been consulted with any of this (which, even then, i thought i was entitled entirely to and apparently am still bitter about that). apparently, we were also faced with the if-she-lived, she'd-be-a-shell anyway dilemma (as they told me later)

but in the end, my control-freak of a mother (sorry mom) did decide how she would go, walking out of this world when no one was looking (my father had left her bed side briefly to get some tea -- the ONLY time he left her bed side. my mother and her flawless timing). so yeah, no need to decide between life extenders and letting her go.

i AM interested in watching House someday, but right now, i'm way too hooked on Grey's Anatomy. hehe. unfortunately, your youngest daughter is too busy to get addicted with me, i almost find my fascination with grey's lonely. hmpf.

ps -- only immediate family as visitors? kind of sad. (or i guess, only on my part.)

annamanila said...

Kate! I reminded you again of your mom! As a 12 year old at the time she passed on, you must have good vivid memories of her. I bet you embrace her in your thoughts before you sleep. And she must be always so young and pretty and sweet-smelling in your thoughts. What I mean is ... you still got your mom around. Plus a bonus: you won't see her grow old and languish. Aah are these just blandishments? Maybe and maybe not. My own mom lived to 80 ... a good long life but her last seven years was spent bed ridden and wheelchair bound. Worst of all, she had aphasia .. an inability to communicate which frustrated her no end until she just gave up ... in the end, she was also just a shell ... lingering on ... because we couldn't give up even that shell. What I mean is ... oh, you know what I mean.

Ah, the bonch is lucky to have you as a friend. Hope your wisdom/maturity rubs off on her by some osmotic process. LOL (shhh dont tell.)

P.S. You can visit me whenever .. but not when I am comatose. (knock on wood) That's what I meant. :)

annamanila said...

Kate!

My blog reminded you again of your mom! Oh well. But you got good and vivid memories of her. I bet you embrace her in your thoughts before you go to bed. And in your thoughts she's always young and pretty and sweet-smelling. What I mean is she's ... always around. And you won't see her grow old and languish.

My own mom lived to 80 .. i guess it was a good full life .. but she spent the last seven years bed ridden and wheelchair bound .. a victim of cerebral stroke. Worst of all, she couldn't communicate which frustrated her no end until she just gave up trying. In the end she was just a shell and even that shell we found hard to give up.

What i mean is your mom, my mom ... oh you know what i mean.

And let me say what I find it hard to say face to face: that I am very very glad your the bonch's friend. I wish some of your wisdom/maturity rubs off on her. (Shhh don't tell.)

P.S. You can visit me whenever and most of all when .. you know ... What I meant is strictly family only when this mom goes comatose (knock on wood).

Prab said...

There was one these blogs I bumped into when I was blog hopping. Apparently she met an accident passed away, and her online buddies were looking for her. Good thing though, in a way, that they finally found out, and they even had the chance to pay some tribute of sorts.

I guess what you want to happen is a good idea, although personally I haven't given it much thought yet.

Ditto with the Verns' DNR, although I hope that when that happens to me there's no Dr. House-like fellow who'd violate my DNR.

annamanila said...

Prab! If I were in your Adidas (adidas nga ba o nike?), I wouldn't have given the topic too much thought, too. That's why I am always genuinely surprised and super delighted when you and other bagets take interest in my 'ode2old' blogs. Thank you very mucho.

annamanila said...

EdQC! I am glad that you liked my blogs. Thanks for the suggestions. Yup, I know that this place needs sprucing up ... its dullsville ha .. soon i will makeover, but i guess i need technical help to do that. Then maybe there will be more traffic in this direction. Haha. So you got a blogsite too .. can i visit?

dimaks said...

With the well-encompassing mantle of love, sometimes man chooses to linger in this world in pain, to their last physical breath of life.

annamanila said...

Dimaks! You made pain so poetic. Thank you -- ang ganda. But no, thanks -- ayaw ko pa din mag-linger.

dimaks said...

:) have you watched "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" movie? and recall Li Mu Bai's (Chow Yun Fat) parting words to Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh)?

Anyway, in life, sometimes the quicker the better :)

annamanila said...

Dimaks! Nope, didn't see that one. And yup, quick is good for some things. Like wit, silver, sand -- and yes dying.

Prab said...

While I take it as a compliment that I still get to be called "bagets," sometimes I feel that I'm "in-between." Age-wise, I'm too young for the people I consider mentally mature (no offense but this goes with age most of the time), and mental-age-wise, I'm too old for the people I grew up with.

That's the reason why I don't mind talking and reading about these stuff. Sometimes though when the people find out my real age, they don't give me much thought kasi nga I'm too young pa daw.

Prab said...

Oops, I forgot to say that I'm working on your comment at my blog. :)

noemi said...

make sure your living will is handwritten if not notarized or notarized if typewritten. My brother made a living will via video and also typewritten but it was not legally valid. Too bad. Now his family has to execute an Extrajudicial settlement.

annamanila said...

Prab! Di ba sabi nung isa sa mga poets (na madalas philosophers din) -- "the child is father of man?" And we sometimes hear even an 18-year old being described as an "old soul?"

Ah .. you mean my question about blogrolls? Sige, will wait ha. Send me a bill? Sana cheap ka lang at pwede na TY! :)

Noems! Thanks for the reminder to notarize/handwrite. And -- ay salamat, dumalaw din sya ulit!! :) Di mo pa nagawa meme ano? hindi na muna kita tag uli.

Toe said...

Annamanila, great entry. Good of you to write something that Filipinos don't really discuss openly to the detriment of families who don't know what to do when the time does come. It's good to think of these things and plan. It's really for the good of our loved ones.

jonell said...

ang buhay.
ang iyong buhay.
ang iyong kagustuhan.

ano ba ang nararapat?
ba't di yun ang sundin mo.

annamanila said...

ang buhay
ay aking buhay
ngunit di ko lagi hawak
ang remote control
nang minsan
bumagsak nang ang malay ko'y
lumipad.

Iba ang may hawak
Di nila alam kung gusto ko
mute o loud o sa channel 12, 24, 6

O power off na.

:(

annamanila said...

that attempt at pilipino poetry is in response to Jonell's poetic injunction. thanks very much Jon.

Prab said...

Strange. I hear that words again to describe me. It's been years since I last heard it. Weird talaga.

And for the blogroll thing, okay na sakin ung "You're the greatest!" or "Ang galing galing mo, bow ako sayo." Hahahah!

Nah, seriously, the blogroll links that you have working there is thank you enough. :)

annamanila said...

Prab! ur the greatest! and galing galing mo. bow ako sa yo. hahahahah.

At higit sa lahat old soul ka. So older ka sa akin, Tito Prab.

Serious ... thanks a mil. Imagine kay dali na lang magblog-hopping ngayon.

annamanila said...

Toe! Thanks .. I said and I will say it again -- I am always amazed when the young folks like my golden blogs. Pero I guess, most bloggers -- regardless of age -- like to take a step beyond.

dimaks said...

Everyone always has the tendency to look for parental ambience, baka yun ang dahilan kung bakit gusto ng mga young folks ang blog mo? Hehe, keep em coming :)

kathy said...

This is a great post. One of my dad's wishes was that if the time comes when the Creator calls him, that he won't have to suffer and long. As it turned out, when his time came, he suffered for three agonizing months before he finally went. Alas, we don't always get our wishes.

I personally know somebody who had already passed away, but whose Friendster account is still accessible - and know what, it sort of gives her a virtual presence, a sense of being alive. I wonder if it would actually be better that way, especially when we are only virtually connected on the web. It's our own way of staking out our place in immortality. :)

annamanila said...

Kathy! I am sorry about your dad. Must have been tough for all of you. But .. hey, he's okay now, he's absolutely safe .. what could be safer than being back to one's maker?

Yes, having internet presence gives us some form of immortality -- formerly reserved only for people who are authors of books. I didn't look at it that way .. till your insightful observation. Thank you.

midnight rainbow said...

hi, just came across your blog and was fascinated by your entry on living wills. don't forget to talk to your soon-to-be-MD daughter about it. you know it's really difficult to be the person to weight every option and to hope when you training tells you to give up hope. *sigh*

Leah said...

Jumped here thru Sexy Mom's link from her post.

Funny...I was just thinking that...hmmmnn maybe I should write my userid and passwords somewhere so my husband or my sister can update blog when I pass on and let the madlang people know.

Its always been in our plans to make a will but always getting postponed. Often times , always joked upon.

btw, I will link you up , OK? thanks

annamanila said...

Leah! Yes, look at me ... this has been at the back of my mind for 10 years! But maybe this blog will help. No, no, no. I should really do it. Many comented here that a handwritten one is as good as legal (need not be notarized). Thanks, flattered to link and be linked up. Have a fun weekend Leah.

sexy mom said...

HAPPY HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, ANNA, DEAR!

Leah said...

Hi Anna,
Yes, I got to this post thru Dine's.

annamanila said...

Oo nga, thats what you said in your very post here. We bloggers .. we owe each other. :)

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