The Lone Ranger and Tonto find themselves after a long exhausting horse ride staring up at canyon walls filled with hostile Apache warriors. The Lone Ranger sensing the impending doom turns to Tonto, his faithful Indian scout, and says “What do WE do now Tonto?” Tonto slowly turns towards to the Lone Ranger, thinks of his Indian brothers and says “What do you mean WE, White Man?”
The other night while in the emergency room for 5 hours, that part of my brain that stands aside and observes had quite an inner monologue going on questioning everything that happened or more precisely what was NOT happening. The delirious from pain and fever me and the bordering on hysterical with fear husband had an intense dialogue going on, but it wasn’t making much sense at the time. And doing us both more harm than good.
I remember asking “why did you bring me here to this ER?” His answer was “because this is where we’ve always come here.” Huh? “Who is we? Come to think of it I used to get medical care a lot faster before I married into this “we” family 10 years ago. And what does that have to with the fact that this is NOW, in the present, the premier suckiest, smelliest, ER I’ve ever been too?” The only ER I’ve been to so far that was worse was the one in downtown Kingston, Jamaica, when a friend poked some tree sap in his eye.
I think I said or maybe only thought “I’d be better off going to Parkland hospital.” (The hospital President Kennedy died at) “At least there I’d die fast instead of writhing away in agony for eons.” It’s pretty pathetic when you are in such misery that you hope for malpractice as an escape from this mortal coil. I’m not accusing Parkland Hospital of malpractice, and am pretty much sure that the President was already a goner upon arrival at their ER, but a desperate brain grasps as straws.
I then asked “OK, why exactly does the collective we always come here to this ER?” The answer was something along the lines of our family (in-laws) donated a lot of money or built a wing or some such thing. That’s all well and good, and I applaud their generosity. However, the point was that it wasn’t helping me now in the present. I didn’t see an express lane for hospital supporters anywhere in the room. When I need medical treatment, I want it fast and am not willing to be patient and wait simply because at some point in the distant past a relative made a donation to this particular institution. Unless maybe I’m willing to play the jolly fellow and just die and donate my organs as well?
Finally in total frustration, Mr. Husband asked “well what do you want to do? Go home?” I said I didn’t know. What I really wanted to say was “just shoot me now and get it over with. My God, if I was an animal they would have already posed this as an option.” The truth is that I rarely “don’t know.” I have an opinion on everything including my demise. When I say I don’t know it’s because I am afraid to verbalize what I’m thinking.
After several more eons waiting it came to me that having an Advanced Medical Directive is not enough. Mr. Husband and I both have a notarized version of this document authorizing us to make decisions for the other in case they are unable to do so.
Along with the AMD document it is also important to hammer out when exactly you become incapable of making decisions, and be very specific about it. Mr. Husband tends to play fast and loose with this one and sometimes decides I’m incapacitated the minute I say “oww.” I have decided that my definition of incapable of making decisions comes at the point when I am unconscious, with eyes closed, and do not respond to a stab in the sternum with a roofing nail and not one second before.
I’ve also decided that it is extremely important to decide beforehand, when I’m in my right mind, important details of health care such as what hospital I want to be taken to in an emergency. It will help ease the panic and confusion and lessen the emotional damage between loved ones after an event. Delirium tends to operate on a sliding scale. The other night I was slipping in and out of reality and at one point thought my brother was talking to me. He lives in Mississippi so that was highly unlikely. If you wait until that point to make life altering decisions you run the risk of not being take seriously.
Another thing I’m going to do is make up a cheat sheet and keep in my wallet. For my own use, to remember what I decided when I was “in my right mind.” And to hand it over to Hubman if I feel myself slipping to the dark side.
1) What hospital I want, no wait DEMAND, to go to if need be.
2) Who my primary care Doctor is …according to me.
3) What hospital I do NOT want to go to, in case my first choice is not an option.
4) Meds I’m taking.
4) What I’m allergic to.
5) The fact that I do not want ice applied to any part of my body unless death is the only alternative. (I hate ice packs-while it’s Hubman’s go-to solution for any problem)