As I prepare to have my head operated on around the end of the month, there are certain steps I’m required to take prior to the surgery. I must have an EKG to ensure, I suppose, that my heart can handle the stress. I have to have a bunch of blood tests, I suppose, to validate that my blood is red, good, and that there are no underlying diseases lingering. And I have to have a pre-operative physical exam from my primary care physician, I suppose, to confirm that I’m of sound mind and body.
I had the physical exam on Thursday and I apparently passed with flying colors. In fact, my doctor said that I’m in great health — for a man my age. I don’t know why she had to add that caveat about a man my age, but whatever.
Then she asked me if I had an advance directive. “A what?” I asked. She gave me a website and suggested I download and complete the advance directive form. “Just to be on the safe side,” she added.
So when I got home I googled “Advance Directive,” and much to my chagrin, this is what I found:
Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.
End-of-life care! WTF? My surgery is going to be done in a surgical center on an outpatient basis, not even at a hospital. But my doctor thinks I need to provide legal instructions regarding my medical care “just in case” I am unable to make medical decisions for myself.
Damn. That doesn’t give any warm fuzzies. My doc seems concerned that I might come out of surgery and not be mentally competent to make my own health care decisions. Or maybe even be brain dead!
Up until now, I haven’t been too worried about this surgery. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to it so that my hearing issue will be fixed. But now that my very own doctor has told me to make sure I have a legal document that will give the doctors and my family instructions on what to do in case I come out of surgery in a vegetative state, I’m feeling a bit uneasy.
Thanks a lot, Doc.