At the beginning of the month, one of our law firm family members suffered a major heart attack. What seemed to be an unfortunate set of circumstances actually ended up saving his live. These “unfortunate” circumstances placed him in the hospital, on the gurney, when his heart attack hit. He was immediately iced down to prevent loss to his mental functions, and kept in a medically induced comma. Had he been anywhere but the hospital, he would have died.
Naturally, all of us in the office were very concerned. His wife was asked multiple questions regarding what he would want if things became even more tenuous. This is of course something we all believe we are immune from. I have heard him since say those all to oft repeated words, “that is not going to happen to me.” He was not overweight, ate decently, had a bit more stress in his life than the average Joe, but the thing that really made him a candidate was not something he really thought of much, family history.
The Utah Department of Human Services recommends ”that you have a document that carefully sets out what your wishes are for end of life medical care and/or who should make medical decisions if you are unable to decide for yourself.”
The document spoken of is the advanced medical directive. This document consists of a health care power of attorney, which allows you to name a person who will make decisions for your healthcare, if you become unable to do so, and a living will, which gives written instructions that explain your wishes with regards to medical procedures, organ donation, and life support.
Taking the time to honestly consider what you would want for yourself in such circumstance, and who you would want to take care of those critical decisions, is one of the best things you can do for your loved ones. Instead of the weight and pressures of such decisions resting on them, you have made clear what you want. It is important to review these documents regularly with your loved ones, especially with individuals you ask to make decisions on your behalf, ensure they know what you want.
Next week, our office family will welcome our heart attack victim back with open arms. Not all stories end so well. While in this case, I spoke of the possibility of heart attack, any of us could find ourselves in similar circumstance. A car accident, the slip of a ladder, and multiple other circumstance could place us in a position where this critical document could save much stress and anxiety for our loved ones.