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?
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.