Recent events raise important issues for you to consider.
In December 2013 there have been several events which you might want to reflect on in terms of what you would want for yourself. Once you have become clear, have a conversation with your Medical Proxy and with your loved ones talking about what you would do in these situations.
1. Nelson Mandela died in early December of 2013. He was 95 and had been in and out of the hospital with recurring respiratory infections. In late summer or early fall he was transferred to his home along with substantial equipment to keep him alive but the suggestion was that he would not recover and there was little indication as to whether he was conscious. (In 2016 Bishop Desmond Tutu has criticized these decisions saying that it deprived Mandela of an opportunity for death with dignity.)
Would you want to be kept alive in this way? What do you think the impact on your family psychologically and financially? Are there religious considerations for you?
2 Ariel Sharon died on the weekend of January 11. 2014. He had been in a coma for 8 years after suffering a stroke. The cause of death was organ failure.
If you were in a coma from a stroke which might result in a long term stay in a hospital or nursing facility, how would you want to be treated? Would you want to be kept alive or would you stipulate to those who were caring for you to terminate life sustaining care… after how many days, months, or years would you want this to happen? What would be the impact on your family? These are tough decisions which you should talk about with your proxy and your family.
3. You may have read about a 13 year old girl in Oakland, CA who went into the hospital for a routine tonsillectomy and did not survive the operation. The doctors determined that she was brain dead from measurements showing no electrical activity in her brain.
Try thinking about this from the perspective of a spouse, yourself, or a grown adult child or sibling. What would you do if you were asked to make a decision about removing the ventilator which is keeping her/him alive? Talk with those you love about your thoughts and possible decisions in this circumstance.