Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Living Wills

An acquaintance sent me an email with this version of a living will.
I,________________________(fill in the blank), being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of peckerwood politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.

If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a cold beer, it should be presumed that I won't ever get better.

When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

Under no circumstances shall the members of the legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention to the health, education and future of the millions of Americans who aren't in a permanent coma.

Under no circumstances shall any politicians butt into this case. I don't care how many fundamentalist votes they're trying to scrounge for their run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that they play politics with someone else's life and leave me alone to die in peace.

I couldn't care less if a hundred religious zealots send e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don't know these people, and I certainly haven't authorized them to preach and crusade on my behalf. They should mind their own business, too.

If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living hell.





I think that a living will is a great idea. Here is my version.
I, John the Mad, being mad but otherwise sound, do not want to be denied food and water should I find myself in what medical practitioners euphemistically call a "persistent vegetative state." Nor do I want to be murdered by a probate judge, subsequent appeal courts, or crusading right-to-die physicians. They must not presume that I am suffering because I am in a twilight existence.

Should Lady Mad, while I am incapacitated, take up living with another man and have children by him, I declare her to be in a conflict of interest and want decisions respecting my treatment and care to be made by a person not so conflicted. Having said this, knowing her character as I do, I do not anticipate that she would place herself in such a conflict. She is a lady, after all.

You should not presume that I will never get better or that I choose death.
I may well be busy dealing with matters of a spiritual nature in a place you cannot reach. Moreover, it is documented that people have emerged from such states and I fully intend to be one of those cases. I will not go gentle into that good night, but I do not fear death. I do, however, fear dying of thirst. It is a wretched and painful way to die and cannot be said by any reasonable standard to be a kind or a caring end.

If, after a reasonable time lapse I fail to sit up and ask for a pint of Guinness, it should be added to the fluids given to me through my feeding tube. Guinness may be considered a reasonable, and at times preferred, substitute for water. Alternatives may consist of a decent merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Wee drops of the creature are to be liberally administered on the Feast of St. Patrick. I will do my best to burp my appreciation.

I do not care how many petitions to kill me are signed by members of the contemporary culture of death. They give me the hives and I don't want, and refuse in advance, what they call mercy. I insist, at a minimum, on the level of care required by law for dogs, cats and serial killers on death row.

Parliamentarians are encouraged to use the "notwithstanding clause" in the Canadian constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if necessary, to override probate judges or other members of the judiciary who want to kill me because they consider judicial and legal process to be of greater substance than my right to life. I am a believer in the democratic process even as I am appalled at how members of parliament act from time to time.

Catholics are welcome and encouraged to petition parliament on my behalf if, and only if, they are doing so in conformity with canon law and the magisterial teachings of my Church. Such law and teachings, while not requiring heroic measures to keep me alive on life support, are genuinely merciful because they are concerned with my spiritual life as well as my physical dignity. I reject the spurious mercy of the eugenicists, proponents of euthanasia, organ harvesters and sundry right to die fanatics who confuse mercy with convenience and "allowing to die with dignity" with murder.

Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other religious believers, agnostics and atheists are all welcome to begin or join political bandwagons to prevent my starvation, subject to the canon law restrictions referred to above.

All are invited and encouraged to pray for me. The religious know why. Agnostics can take comfort that such prayers may be of value. Atheists are reminded that it can't possibly hurt.

Remember. If you kill me in the name of mercy I won't come back to haunt you. I'll have gone to a better place, ... I hope. But if you do me wrong, Mercy may ultimately choose to deal with you in the name of Justice. He does both.

John the Mad
Upper Canada


At 8:37 am, April 21, 2005 , Blogger Not the PHB said...

I think your letter has twigged on the issue that concerned me most during the whole TS situation...

The US Congress found it necessary to pass a law for one individual facing one set of circumstances. Don't get me wrong, I think that every individual is important. But I have to believe that with all the other issues facing the US these days, surely the elected representatives could have found something more pressing to debate and pass a law over than one poor woman's plight and the legal wranglings of her family. I would have been assuaged somewhat if the law had been crafted to deal with any persons in similar circumstances, but it's my understanding that it was drafted and passed to deal only with the TS case.

I know this was done (in no small measure) to win votes. But given the attention span of the average American, I have to wonder whether they'll even remember when it comes election time...

I think that the TS case was dragged through the media to such a degree was a travisty. But I wasn't surprised given the CNN 'over-coverage' syndrome that has beseiged most US news outlets.

At 2:36 pm, April 21, 2005 , Blogger John the Mad said...

I would not normally recommend passage of a law aimed at one individual, but one is permitted, and likely is obligated, to suspend normal processes in order to save a life. That is what happened in the US Congress.

As for dealing with more pressing matters, just what was more important during the time of the extra-ordinary weekend sitting? Senators' golf games? (I accept that you hold the the individual to be important, as you said.)

It was a media circus, alright.

At 3:32 pm, April 21, 2005 , Blogger Curt said...

I love it!

At 10:52 am, December 02, 2006 , Blogger Charlie Cory said...

Very amusing. I would have to say though, that such a well thought out post suggests that you are not as mad as you say you are. Would this invalidate your will?

Estates and Wills

At 11:07 pm, December 06, 2006 , Blogger Silver Streak said...

Whatever the influence could have been, if the right person persuades you on how to write your will, then they will be making decisions for you. You can modify your own will if it is a holographic will, which does not need witnesses, but is only valid in 25 states. A living will can either be locked in your own personal safe or given to your attorney; at the time of your death, the will can be presented to your family.
More will information


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