Thanks for all the comments the other day about "having the talk" with someone about your preferences for care if you find yourself unexpectedly, critically, ill. What I also wanted to say, that I didn't, because it needed to be part two of that discussion, is this....
In the world of modern healthcare you can be saved from many things, you get a bad infection - there are antibiotics, your kidneys fail - dialysis to the rescue, can't swallow safely anymore - feeding tube can be put in, can not protect your airway because of brain injury - a tracheostomy tube can be inserted, blood pressure going down the tubes - there are medications to keep it up, I couldn't possibly describe all the things that can be done to "fix" your heart... and so forth and so on. What this leaves us with sometimes are people who are "stuck". By that I mean they are not getting any better, but they are also not dying. They have been rescued from all the things that could kill them.
Being rescued from things that can kill you is a good thing. UNLESS you are existing in a state that is not acceptable to you. Then you must ask yourself if you want to be rescued. Just because tools are available, it does not mean they must be used.
Therapies that are started can also be stopped. I don't want to make the assumption that everyone knows this. This point was brought home to me today when I was asked by a nurse whose father has a defibrillator/pacemaker if it's ok to turn them off when someone is sick and not getting any better. The answer to that question by the way, is a resounding YES.
It might feel differently to stop something rather than never starting it in the first place, but from a moral, legal, ethical standpoint you should know that there is no difference and you are on solid ground if you request therapies be stopped. I tell people everyday that these decisions are not set in stone, and if you find that your loved one's days seem to be more about suffering than having any good quality time you should talk about these issues with the healthcare provider involved in their care.
Oh. And by the way. I don't have a part 3 to this discussion planned. At the moment anyway.