I just finished watching this week's Frontline, "Facing Death," a heartbreaking story about people and physicians who can't give up hope.
It's about patients who deny they're near death or whose family members just can't let go and "do nothing."
I know from experience that allowing someone to die when it comes time is not just doing nothing. My sister tried to survive to see her grandson born, but when it became obvious the blood clots in her lungs weren't going to break up, her spouse took her off the ventilator and let her go.
Part of the problem is that too many doctors don't want to give up on a patient, even when the chances of revovery are miniscule. That's when family members must step in.
One of the most important things we all should do is to appoint a health care proxy -- one who will follow our wishes. When Mike was dying, I knew his wishes, but he didn't want me to have to make that decision to stop treatment; he appointed his cousin, Shannon. Fortunately, she never had to be called in.
We've all had the discussion in my family. It's a talk every family needs to have.
Caring for people who don't have hope of a recovery that will allow them a meaningful life costs more than $25 billion each year in the US. When 51 million people don't have access to care, that seems wrong, especially when many of the people in ICU for months on end just delaying the inevitable really didn't want their lives to end this way.
Watch the episode, then go to www.agingwithdignity.org and click on "five wishes" to download a living will.
"Facing Death:" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/facing-death/?utm_campaign=homepage&utm_medium=bigimage&utm_source=bigimage
I thought the dusty CD jacket was one of my old ones, but it turned out to be Mike's, and in the middle of it was a CD of photos I never saw before, labeled, "photos of me, asswipe." It was almost like having him back for a moment.
Janet must have shot the photos, probably in a single afternoon, just before he got sick.
Mike with his acoustic guitar.
Someone stopped me on the street today and asked if I was Mike's mom. She had sen me at rallies and vigils and on TV, and she wanted to know how I can do what I do.
I told her I can't do nothing. If I sit still, I'm overcome with missing him and my heart breaks all over again. I fight for access to health care for everyone because I wouldn't wish what happened to him on anyone. And I can't stand the thought of other families living through what we have since he got sick and since he died.
Call me a socialist; it's only a word. I still want health care for everyone.
Sunday's event was terrific, with about 75 people in attendance and some of the best food in Asheville, thanks to Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Tingles Cafe, Mela Indian Restaurant, Cindy Smith, Modesto and The Lobster Trap.
We made a little over $4,000, which will keep us in the black for a few months.
We heard from Michelle Stinson, our first Pal, and Carol Ann Pothier, our first matched volunteer. Patrons only saw the new Michelle. Had they met her six months ago, they wouldn't believe the change in her, from depressed and afraid to confident and self-assured.
Almost all the auction items went and a number of them went for more than their value.
Thanks again to Jack & Lesley Groetsch, who allowed us to use their restaurant, and who, with their staff helped cook the food, helped set up and helped clean up.