Oops, got off the subject. My family found out this weekend that you don’t want to get me started on the need for everyone to have a living will. It’s one of my more passionate opinions, because I’ve seen what happens when you don’t have one.
That brings me to the subject that I wanted to cover in this post which is congress sticking its nose in this case. No, I’m not a legal scholar, so I’m not going to touch that debate with a ten foot pole. What I’d like to say is a response to a quote from House Majority Leader, Tom Delay that was found in this article in the Washington Times. I’m sure it was said by many members of congress over the weekend, but Mr. Delay is the one who was quoted.
. . . it’s a highly unusual case. . .
I know that out of all the words that have been spilled on this subject, these are odd ones to pick, but to me they are the essence of what is wrong about what congress did this weekend. That statement is totally false. This is a crappy case. This is a sorry situation for anyone to find themselves in. This case makes us all want to puke. Any of those statements would have been just fine, and I think they are all true. This is not a highly unusual case. Sure, I’ve never seen these exact details before, but I’ve seen a bunch like it.
I had the 40 year old police officer with End Stage ALS whose wife moved in with her boyfriend while the patient’s sister and teenage sons took care of him at the house. The wife would get mad about something every once in a while and threaten to take him off hospice . . . and we all knew she could. There was the son I spoke of in this post, who admitted to my face that his father had told him time and again that he wanted to die at home. The son refused to allow the sister who had taken care of her father for years to grant their father’s wish, because he and his girlfriend had moved into the father’s house (rent free) while dad was in the nursing home. I could go on, but those are the best ones that have happened this year.
Yes, those two examples have happened in the past year (or so) and are from one hospice office. I would be willing to bet all the money I’ve got (it would be a small wager) that there is another situation very much like Terri Schiavo going on in the United States today. The only difference would be that either the family isn’t fighting as much or the press isn’t paying as much attention. This is not a rare case, and the government needs to get a grip on that fact before they set themselves up to have to fly back to Washington every time a family gets into a fight.
Yes, this whole case makes me sick, but it is not rare. I guess that is why I have not spent the energy to follow it like the rest of the nation has. I’ve got my own life-or-death family drama most days at work. Ask any hospice worker you know and they will probably tell you the same thing.
(Did I mention that everyone needs to have a signed living will? The means you, so get off the internet, find the form, fill it out, make copies for your doctor, hospital, and family members, explain to them all exactly what you want, and tell them that they should do the same for their family. Now, go. Seriously, is what you are doing now more important than signing your living will? GO!