“President Bush, now championing the right of Terri Schiavo’s parents to decide if her feeding tube should be reinserted, signed a Texas law in 1999 giving spouses top priority in making such decisions.” Cox News Service
Though I love them, I would NOT want my parents (sorry mom) to be making the decisions about my end-of-life care: that is the role of my life partner. If you are married, that is your spouse; if not “legally married” (as is true for many straight and gay couples), make sure you have a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney on file with your health care provider, stating your wish for your life partner to make decisions on your behalf. Also, make sure you have had the conversation with your spouse and family, about what your wishes are. It may not prevent the awful situation that the Schaivo case has become (they were even a married couple! Jeez), but it definitely increases the likelihood your wishes will be respected.
Here’s a poem:
The Wages of Mercy
The medics tell me he's been ten years
in the nursing home, dwindling
the past few weeks, refusing to eat,
asking only for his Winstons
and to be left alone.
Tonight when he spiked a fever,
and quickly became unresponsive,
with no family, no friends
to contact, the nurses asked
he be brought here, to the emergency room,
the open hands of strangers.
His color is awful. He's barely breathing.
I wonder for a moment what all
the commotion is about,
nurses frantically starting IV's
and drawing blood and
placing EKG electrodes;
it's only death —
as if we hadn't seen death before.
I shine a penlight into vacant
eyes, touch his heaving chest
and abdomen with the bell
of my stethoscope, listening
to the pneumonia crackle and pop.
The nurses ask what I want to do,
as if we must do something, anything.
I stroke a lock of matted hair
away from the old man's brow,
order a liter of saline and
some oxygen, biding time with comfort
as I sit at his bedside,
rifle through his voluminous chart.
Cardiac monitors beep and whir,
keeping guard with their syncopated melody.
The telephone rings three times, then stops.
from Saying the World