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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Care Reform Myths and Reality

Since the dawn of civilization, men and women have created myths to explain things they couldn't understand. "The rise and setting oof the sun"," What causes the rain?" "How are babies made?", "What happens when we die? etc.
Even now, we create myth when faced with inexplicable events like the assassination of JFK, the death of Elvis, droughts and hurricanes.
Many of us find change, difficult to handle. We don't always welcome it and often do what we can to postpone or prevent it. So it's no surprise that the prospect of fundamental modifications in our health care delivery system has created a climate of stress and discomfort for many.

One of the many myths about the health system that are currently making the rounds of Town Halls, bar rooms and barber shops is the one about "Living Wills" or advance health care directives.

Several years ago, my stepmother was critically injured in a head-on collision. She suffered significant brain damage and remained in a coma, without regaining consciousness, until her death, three months after the accident. After three months in a coma, her attending physician asked me as head of the family, to decide whether my step-mother's life should continue to be sustained via life-prolonging procedures. She had shown no signs of consciousness during the three months in the hospital and the EKG showed no brain activity. I consented to the termination of all life-prolonging procedures and she stopped breathing almost immediately. I arranged for cremation- there was no funeral. I had been close to my stepmother for more than thirty years and I was certain that she would have wanted for things to be handled the way I had decided and when I told my siblings and my stepmother's mother what I had decided and how I had come to the decision they all agreed that it was the right thing to do.

Now we hear many misguided and perhaps ignorant people in Town Halls across America talking about "Death Directives" and "Pulling the plug on Grandma", their words for the Living Will procedures offered in the proposed Health Care Reform Bill.
Living Wills are instruments that every one of us can and should execute to insure that when and if it becomes necessary to decide on matters concerning how we wish to die and how our bodies should be treated after death, it will be our decision and the responsibility not left to a hospital employee, a grief stricken relative or the courts. Only the truly ignorant or liars would call a Living Will a death directive

1 comment:

Lili said...

Very well put. Good lead-in and illustration of point, expressed clearly and engagingly. I think you've hit your stride here. Keep up the good work, Lili