If you think retirement
Is a piece of cake
If you think the medical world
Is ready for you in your wild and precious young or old age
If you think the good old USofA
Has the best medical system in the whole wide world
If you think you don’t need a palliative care doctor
Maybe you do and maybe you don’t
And please, Think again!
It feels overwhelming to begin planning for the unlikely and the inevitable.
However, if I don’t, I won’t be ready for what might come on this side of death. Our national medical institutions are NOT, for the most part, prepared to help us die with or without dignity. Many still operate with the imperative of keeping the patient alive at all costs.
Thankfully, the picture is changing. Nonetheless, it isn’t keeping up with our aging population. In addition, waiting and hoping for the best isn’t a viable option. Especially if we have serious health issues that won’t reverse, and will end in death.
Yesterday D and I met with Dr. Amy, my new palliative care doctor. We had a long, sometimes teary (for me), often lively conversation about my health. It focused on my top five concerns, and how I might make my current situation more tolerable.
Dr. Amy gave each of us a bright pink (yes PINK!) form to fill out at home and sign. After my doctor signs it, I’ll show it to my other doctors. They’ll make copies for their files. Then I’ll post the Pink Document on our refrigerator door.
In case of a medical emergency, the Pink Form will travel with me. It’s an official Pennsylvania Department of Health document with its own twist. Instead of Physician’s Orders, it says Pennsylvania Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. Don’t ask me why–it’s all politics, and complicates things a bit as described above. Nonetheless….
The form includes explanations, and options for the treatment I wish to have (or not) depending on my preferences and situation. I can make changes later if I so wish.
I’m relieved to have begun this process. It isn’t about dying today or tomorrow. It’s about recording my decisions now to help avoid being caught up in endless attempts to keep me alive at all costs.
Thanks for visiting, reading and Thinking Again!
©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 July 2019
Cartoon found at pinterest.com
Your post causes me to think that the church is not ready either. Perhaps a pink POLST form needs to be developed for Pastors Offering Love and Sustaining Trust for parishioners still wanting connection with the worshipping body but unable to make it to the sanctuary.
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Hi, Dave. I’ve thought of you often in the last month. Partly because of your experience in a palliative care program, and also because I’m convinced this is a huge opportunity for churches like ours. I think you’re suggesting something besides just the pink medical form. However, just offering help with that could open the way to other possibilities.
That cartoon at the top sums up my life. At least it sums up my EX wife’s thoughts about my life. I am laughing too much to read anymore of you post. I just may struggle and get back to it tomorrow.
I couldn’t stop laughing at it, either. I was looking for a cartoon about old age, and there it was in all its wondrous glory! Laugh away. It’s better than crying. And don’t over-exert yourself about the rest of the post! 🙂
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