On our way back home from Thanksgiving, I told Husband that if he were ever in a weird position where I was like in a irreversible coma, then he should pull the plug, and he agreed that he would like the same. As long as there was no likelihood that we would be able to come back and function somewhat independently, we would choose to not come back at all. It’s not like we talk like this every day, and maybe it’s from absorbing too many medical dramas or newspaper headlines, but people seem to run into trouble when they’ve never had this conversation with the people around them. (If I were being really organized, we would need this in writing, like a living will, or, I forget what the medical term is — health care proxy! That’s it!) It’s not like I want to die, I would really like to stick around for a reasonable amount of time in reasonably sound health, to enjoy and endure what’s to come, but dude, remember that Terry Schiavo fiasco? No thank you.
In any case, it’s not actually that simple. There was a wonderful article by Dr. Atul Gawande in The New Yorker (wow, which I read without any friend’s prompting), talking about when introduce the idea of hospice, and he speaks in great detail of how complicated it all is, how hard it is for anyone (patients, doctors) to accept that maybe it’s time to let go. He profiles one patient, who discovered a cancer while pregnant, who totally believed what I believed, but in the end, could not stop fighting and how he, as her doctor, found he could not stop fighting either. Hospice care actually elongated some of the life time in the article, and definitely eased the patient’s suffering. Who the hell knows how you’ll react when push comes to shove? I do not know what I would do if cancer was discovered in my body. Cancer does not seem like a good way to go, but you know what else seems like a bad way to go? Zombies.