Advanced Medical Directives and You

Not long before my Mom passed away, she was admitted to Bayonne Medical Center.  It was a trip she would not make it home from, and one that gave my family grey hairs along with some unwanted legal knowledge and stress.  Thanks to a recent study that was published, I now see that out experience is not as isolated as I would hope (to shield others from the dreadful experience).  According to the article posted on NBC News, Pulling the plug: ICU ‘culture’ key to life or death decision, how and how often a particular hospital chooses to authorize a DFLST (Decision to Forgo Life-Sustaining Therapy) varies greatly.

I guess this isn’t really new, which is why things like Advanced Medical Directives (aka Living Wills) have become so prominent.  But I think the vast differences in percentages (from 3.5 percent on the low end to 20.6 percent), is really startling.  But as my family learned, if you or a loved one have an Advanced Medical Directive, give it a look over and make sure it really says and what you think it does, and leaves the power in the proper hands, because it is your life that is at stake.  Because as we learned the hard way, that decision could fall into the hands of somebody either incompetent or just “trigger happy” and all to willing to slap a DNR (Do-Not-Resuscitate) bracelet onto the patient or pull life saving equipment.  With my Mom, we actually had one of each (Side Note: Not that anybody can choose when to be ill, but be extra vigilant around the holidays when staff often has lots of young, inexperienced “house doctors” on staff, or fill-ins because of vacations).

My mother did in fact have an Advanced Medical Directive. but thanks to wording that took control from the children and put it in the hands of the doctors, “when 2 doctors concur” (the doctor lied and did not have the second agreeing opinion, but that is a whole other story) we had many sleepless nights and calls to attorney’s to keep control of the situation.

Too many people have blind trust when it comes to doctors and hospitals, and just automatically assume, “they know best.”  This is simply not always the case, and even what is “the best for you” can vary from hospital to hospital.  At the end of the day, it is your (or your loved ones) life, and sadly if that hospital or doctor is wrong, “My Bad” doesn’t bring one back from the dead.  Protect yourself.  Have an Advanced Medical Directive so your wishes can be carried out, and be sure that it spells out exactly who has the power to act on your behalf, when and how.  Your life just may depend on it.


Lock him up

I get into plenty of arguments with people over gun control.  I support background checks.  I am mixed on the idea of “reduced” magazine size.  But I am all for the “right to bear arms.”  But with that “right” comes responsibilities.  And that is where many things go wrong.

In a case here in NJ where a 4-year old shot and killed his 6-year old friend, the father has been charged with child endangerment and enabling access by minors to a loaded firearm.  This is exactly what should happen in all of these cases.  Far too often you see an incident classified as an “accident” (and it is to the extent that there was no malicious intent on the part of the 4-year old), such as the case where the 4-year old nephew of Deputy Daniel Fanning shot and killed his wife when he “accidentally” discharged a gun that Fanning had left laying on the bed. The Tenn Sheriff investigating the incident called it “a terrible accident” and while the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is examining the incident, over a month later, no charges have been filed.

I realize that ever since the Newton shooting, we are all hypersentive to children and guns.  But let up lay blame where it belongs.  When an adult is guilty of manslaughter by leaving a loaded firearm around that causes death, charge him.  Then hopefully the next person won’t be so careless.

The child and dealing with the loss of a pet

When my mom passed away last year, I was ready to deal with the grief, not only my own, but what I thought I would have to deal with from The Princess.  She is a very emotional child, and was fairly close to my mother.  I was rather surprised, though sad, she did not break down nearly as much as I anticipated. (I on the other hand, despite having mentally prepared myself, was no where near as stoic as I thought I would be).  So, I guess in a way I was lucky that I didn’t have much to do in this situation, but I felt prepared for it.

For the third time though in three years, we lost a pet.  In 2010, it was our first hamster, Rufus.  This was the first time since my father’s passing in 2004, and probably the first time that The Princess was truly cognizant of loss and the true permanence of it.  I was in no way prepared for such event, and while I tried to comfort her as best I could, I had no idea what to really say to make it any easier.  We found a nice box that was originally intended for some old craft project of mine.  She decorated it, and we buried Rufus beneath the Scotch Brush in the yard.  We sort of lucked out in a way, and a friend offered her another Hamster (Mousey).  Mousey was far more friendly than Rufus ever was, and this helped and sort of bailed TheWife and I out… at the time.

Late last year, it came time, and we needed to say good-bye and put to sleep our dog Sweetie.  Sweetie was old, and she had been having problems, and The Princess sort of understood and wasn’t caught off guard when the day came.  We spent the morning with her, we gave her extra treats and extra love and had a chance to say good-bye.  And I thought that would make it easier… and maybe to a certain extent it did, but she was still devastated   Actually more than I originally realized.  And she actually put some of the blame on TheWife and I for the decision.  I found this out when one of her dance teachers informed me that The Princess had been talking about her dog and told another child in the class that her parents, “had my dog whacked.”  Wow.  Clearly, did not do as good a job in dealing with this loss as I thought or hoped.

Yesterday, as we were getting The Princess ready for bed (timing is everything, isn’t it?), we knew something was wrong.  Mousey, who always awoke looking for a snack at bedtime, was not stirring.  She looked in the cage.  And she knew.  But hoping against hope, she reached into the cage to try and wake Mousey up.  But she was gone.   Needless to say the hysterics began.

Now you would think after having gone through this twice before, I would be ready.  And you would be completely wrong.  I let her cry  it out.  I tried to console her, but each comment was met with a retort.  First I pointed out the typical lifespan of a hamster.  She quickly point out that everybody told her that the goldfish she won a carnival in the first grade would not last long.  And dammit is she isn’t right, here we are in the 7th grade and the goldfish is still going strong (knock on wood).  I mentioned the possibility of a “Mousey Jr.” which only made her declare that she is not sure that she could handle going through this again.  And she caps it off with, “I thought 2012 was going to be a good year!  Why does everything I love keep dying?”  I hugged her, held her.. and realized… I am still not prepared to deal with this.

This time I found a cigar box with an angel on it, and I made some bedding, put Mousey in it.  ThePrincess asked me to add her favorite chew block and snack in the box, which of course I did.  We went out in the early morning hours, and we had a brief funeral for Mousey.  We tried to keep it upbeat, and talked about the fun time, the fact that she was quite the escape artist, and how fortunate considering her mad escape skills, that we were able to enjoy having her in our family for the past two years.  Mousey is now buried next to Rufus under the Scotch Brush.  And we were able to get through it.

But I still don’t know how to help her deal with this.  Or if there really is something I can do.  I am the type of person that when something is wrong, I like to fix it.  And the reality is, this is one situation that no matter how hard I try, cannot be truly fixed.

Bitter Much?

I really have to ask, because I don’t know when it happened. Really, I don’t! And I have really been amazed at how frequently I have seen it lately. So, tell me, why is it, if something becomes popular now in our social media driven world, that it seemingly also suddenly becomes cool to become angry or downright hateful towards it?

And I do not mean politics. The old saying goes that in civil company, you never discuss religion or politics, because those are things that can always become heated, and thanks to alternate perspectives there is no right and wrong. And while that is true of most things, religion and politics have always been specifically singled out because being on the “wrong” side of an issue could cause hurt feelings. But that was really where it ended. But that doesn’t seem to be the case any more.

Yes, I know there has always been a “counter culture.” For every type of music, there has always been an “alternative,” and clothing, jewlery, lifestyles, literature, have always had their proponents. And with that comes a love/hate relationship. But this goes beyond the generalities of counter culture, down to the specifics.

I am not doing such a hot job of trying to generalize this, so let me give you some examples that I have seen recently, that have irked me. Not so much because somebody likes/or disklikes something in particular, but because of the way it seems to be coming about. The first and most obvious recently is the book, Shades of Grey. The book sits, and has for some time now on many best seller lists. It became something of a sensation. And just as it did, the swell of anger seemed to begin. People hating a book, that they have not read, because they suddenly felt superior or cool to have not read it. People who “heard” the writing “was not that good.” People making fun of women that found it erotic to read a book. It was banned in 3 States and pulled from library shelves, because of what OTHERS said about it.

“It’s semi-pornographic,” said Don Walker, a spokesman for Brevard County, Fla., where the library put 19 copies of the book on the shelves then pulled the novel after reading reviews about it.

So, they “heard” this, attached titles to it like “Mommy Porn” (yet, they continue to carry Harlequin Novels which have been the “standard” for that sort of characterization for many years) and decided that that they did not want it.  I am not even going to go into the whole book burning mentality, because that is beyond the scope here, but because it is talked about, because libraries have waiting lists for it, they decided to take the time to go out and JUDGE a book they have not read.  It just became good to hate this book.

And while the most widely spread, it is not the only example.  The boy band, One Direction has been skyrocketing in popularity this year, and the cries of “One Direction Sucks” has been growing equally fast.  Why?  I mean, sure, you have a right to not like their music.  I am no big fan of One Direction (though my daughter is), so I do not listen to their music, and to me that is enough.  I don’t need to create websites, or run around to every mention of the band, to explain how they suck, and the only people that listen to them are tweens, and so on and so on and so on.  It suddenly becomes a mission it seems to some people, and the crowd mentatlity grows around it as more and more join it to express their hatred to something that is popular despite their insistence of how it “sucks.”

My last example, and the one that finally pushed me to write this post and ask what is it I am missing is this years Olympics.  Now, I am not one of those people that stops everything to watch the Olympics every 4 years, nor am I one of those people that get a sudden burst of Patriotism and start chanting “U…S…A” at every opportunity.  I do find it somewhat humorous that others do, but I certainly don’t criticize them for it.  But now here comes our little counter culture popping up again, talking about how people watch events they don’t care about “because it is the Olympics,” or how the games are boring, etc.  I saw a  Facebook status, that because it came from somebody I normally respect ( I am not going to call this person out specifically because I am just using this statement as an example), actually shocked me into a state of, “WTF” when  they said:

My favorite part of the Olympics is watching teenage girls get their dreams crushed in front of billions of viewers. It’s like a car wreck. I can’t turn away.

Really?  That is your “FAVORITE” part of the Olympics?  Then why bother watching?  How would you feel if it was your child getting their dreams CRUSHED?  The athletes, and their families put their lives in many cases on hold in order to get the opportunity to even compete at this level, and because you have “too many” Status items in your timeline this week about the Olympics, it is OK to get pleasure out of their not attaining their dream?  Or like Conan O’Brien, you decide it is OK to make fun of an Olympic athlete because she is too heavy or not attractive enough for you, despite the fact that she has attained levels in competition that you most likely never will?  That same hateful tweet, having been retweeted over 2,000 times shows how quickly it spreads.

I just don’t get it.  Is it the social media that enables these things to turn into such a powerful chorus of hatred so quickly?  Does that allow it to grab a mass mob mentality so quickly?  Are we just seeing more of it since social media makes so much more visible?  Or, in my old age, am I just growing more intolerant of people that seem to make fun of something, for no other reason than it is popular and people seem to need to make themselves feel superior to “against the grain?”  Or am I just off base here?  Please tell me.

In Dreams Give-away

Hey… did you know I am giving away autographed copy of J. Sterling’s debut Young Adult novel, In Dreams? Go over to my review blog here and enter to win it. (You only have until the end of Saturday to enter).