Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Living Will

We awoke to rain this morning.  Up until today, my little space has generally missed the rain and shower activity that has plagued much of Maine for the last few days.  But it is wet out there this morning.

When I drove to my senior fitness session yesterday morning, I noticed that gas prices had increased in stations I pass.  Last week, two of the stations were at $3.679/gallon.  Yesterday one of them was at $3.699 and the other at $3.759.  On the way back home I got to thinking about the increase and realized we had just gone through a holiday weekend, almost always a signal for increased gas prices.  I'll have to check Thursday morning when I next pass those places and see if that increase held.

Am I alone in noticing a huge difference in the quality of the NBC Today show when Savannah Guthrie is the cohost?  She takes over quite frequently when Ann Curry isn't there, which isn't often enough for me.  Savannah is a much stronger interviewer than Ann and the whole show seems to by more dynamic.  But that's just one viewer's point of view.

Did you know the "Living Will" law has changed?  I didn't until I met recently with my attorney on an estate matter.  When one reaches the mid-70s, good planning becomes even more critical and it was time to update mine.  I had completed a "Living Will" back in the '90s when I updated my Last Will.  (In case you wondered, "Last Will and Testament" isn't necessarily the last one.  It can be changed, refined, or otherwise updated as conditions change.) 

Gator Wife and I believed, correctly, that we had made it clear what we wanted to happen when "that" day comes.  Because we wanted to make life as easy as possible for our named Executor, we decided a review with the attorney was needed.  People should have occasional reviews anyway just to make sure provisions were up-to-date with new laws and new life conditions.  Our Will was fine, but the attorney suggested some ways we could make it easier after we're gone.

He also pointed out our "Living Will" was outdated.  It would suffice, he said, but it really didn't meet all the requirements of legislation passed since we first made the document.  The new "Advanced Health Care Directive" spells out more definitively just what should happen and when during those final days.

I remembered that time I was rushed to the hospital ten years ago with a burst aneurysm and resulting heart attack.  I'm extremely thankful that the Scarborough Rescue Unit got me to the hospital in the time window and that a fantastic surgeon was arriving at the same time.  As I was being wheeled into the operating room, the last words I heard were the nurse saying, "He has a living will."  I think those are the worst words one can hear when one is on a death spiral.

I didn't know that doctors simply couldn't "pull the plug" and had to do all they can to save a person.  And my super surgeon did all he could to save me.  His efforts are why I'm able to write this today.  The new Directive takes all that concern away.  It spells out specifically who can make medical decisions and under what conditions those decisions can be made.  

Thirty-five years ago, my mother lapsed into unconsciousness a month after my father had died.  Within a week, the doctors in a Florida hospital declared she was "brain dead," but then continued to keep her on life support.  For six months over the objections of my brother and me she was passed from one hospital to another so, as my brother and I could only determine, the facilities could get a share of her insurance money, possibly estate money.

We hired an attorney in Florida to assist us, but he said that under then Florida laws and because she had no Living Will, we had no say in the matter.  They finally let her go after six months, although her soul, we believe, had long gone to its place beside our father's.

A Living Will takes care of much of those decisions, but the new Advanced Health Care Directive closes the gaps and spells out just who can make those decisions and under what conditions.  Updating your last wishes just might be a good idea.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Michelle Bachman, on the basis of her interview on NBC's Meet the Press had taken a 1 to a collective nothing lead in my choices for the republican presidential nomination.  Since then, nothing.  All the candidates in my book are once again tied at zero.  We need new, fresh blood to join the fray, blood not in any of the current political status.


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