I recently had minor surgery, and although it was only minor surgery, I was poked and prodded, looked at from every angle and besieged with numerous documents to sign, initial and date.
One of the many healthcare providers handed me a document with a long list of all the things that could go wrong during my “procedure.” The list began with slight discomfort, and then progressed to blurry vision, and about three quarters of the way down the page was the word DEATH. As I was wrapping my head around that, the efficient nurse had already moved on to the next thin, white sheet of paper from her paper mountain and asked me if I had a healthcare proxy.
Having been pulled out of my moment of pondering, my immediate instinct was to lie. I wanted to say “yes, yes of course.” I wanted to say “I work in the aging field; I know about this. I talk about this!” I wanted to say “This is not an issue, where do I initial?” But alas, I quietly and hesitantly said no.
The nurse checked the appropriate box and moved down her long list of obligatory questions without giving it another thought. I, however, did not move on. My inner dialogue reached a crescendo with multiple voices competing for attention. “Why have I not done this? What am I waiting for? We all need to do this! What? Do I think I am immune to bad stuff happening?” I just could not figure out why I keep putting this off.
If any of this sounds familiar, I encourage you to take a bit of time and check out the websites listed below. This stuff is hard to think about and hard to talk about. It can be a bit overwhelming. The information on these websites is great at helping us think about this, talk about this and maybe act on this.
And oh yes, the surgery went well. I did not die, and I want to proudly proclaim that I now have a healthcare proxy, but…
• Aging with Dignity – 5 Wishes – www.FiveWishes.org
• Caring Connections – www.Caringinfo.org
• National HealthCare Decisions Day – www.nhdd.org
• The Conversation Project – www.theconversationproject.org
• The Go Wish Game – www.GoWish.org
If you have any questions, or if there is a topic you want to read about in the Ask Your Daughter column, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Senior Services of Albany, 32 Essex St., Albany 12206.
Be well and be happy.