Filling out new forms with old information, I was startled. The dermatologist’s office wanted to know my end of life wishes.
Good grief! I hate filling out forms!
Why did they need to know that if all they were treating was eczema? Oh Wait – I was here for the annual skin cancer check.
Skin cancer(s) might open all kinds of doors I never noticed.
Is it a coincidence, then, that at the start of Holy Week my mortality loomed real?
It’s also the week of my second COVID shot . . . and the news that we are not out of the pandemic woods yet.
But my annoyance at being confronted with cheeky questions about how much end-of-life care do I want came from other sources:
- The prospect of celebrating A big birthday, Lord willing;
- The reality of living through a deadly pandemic.
However, it wasn’t until later, I remembered better questions health care providers might ask patients:
How do we want to spend the remainder of our lives – and what are we afraid of? (Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande)
Whew . . .
Of course, most of us are afraid of out-living our resources. And we want to be with folks we love best for as long as we can.
So . . . what am I doing with the time I have today to be a good steward?
Well, first: I am remembering to be really nice to the people who might be making a decision about health care directives.
Second: We keep taking care of the old body and mind. We are still on our regime of healthy eating and walking. (Nope, we haven’t gained back the pounds we lost; a real miracle!) Painting and listening to books and music help keep me in a frame of mind where I can be civil.
Third: Working on a better relationship with the only One who can see me through if approaching the safe harbor Heaven is through a storm I didn’t see coming.
Some Help for Filling Out Forms
I will also pass along a link to a thoughtful essay on end of life care. It helped me answer questions nobody wants to be asked. What kind of treatment do I want people, who might have a tough decision, to make?
1. Seek aggressive treatments when they offer hope of recovery but
2. Decline aggressive treatments . . .
a. When they only prolong death, or
b. When they inflict suffering without commensurate benefit.
Of course the form’s end of life questions aren’t worded that way.
By the way, thankfully all the dermatologist discovered was only more wrinkles.
And when I was filling out those forms, I scribbled in: Check with my doctor, and gave the phone number.