Think of one special person in your life that you admire.
This person is strong, kind, giving, always helping and thinking of others first. You know who this is – the person that keeps quiet about what they need, and puts their wishes aside because they’re busy with everyone else’s.
They seem to have lots of energy, always working, doing things for others, making little gifts for birthdays and usually finishing Christmas shopping two months prior to the event. This person may be in good health, with no real complaints – at least none that you hear about, because they wouldn’t want to worry you with their own problems.
Have you thought about who this special person is to you? Does someone come to mind?
My special person had a brain aneurysm on Christmas Eve. The doctors said there was a 50-50 chance she wouldn’t survive this, as the aneurysm had burst. I didn’t even know about brain aneurysms then, never mind about the prognosis or possible outcomes. All I knew is that my special person was in hospital, hooked up to tubes, in a coma, while we waited…
At this point, it was too late for us to do anything about it. Our very busy lives distracted us from what we “could’ve” or “should’ve” done for her. Did she know we admired her so? Did we tell her enough times? My goodness, did we even have enough photographs of her, to remember her as she was?
As she lay on a bed, in the Critical Care ward, one specialized nurse watching over her every breath, pulse and heartbeat, we realized how little we should’ve known about her. Sure, we knew she adored her family above anything else, liked gardening, took the most amazing photographs…
We knew which her favourite foods were, that she hoped to one day have the money to travel to Egypt, we knew she often felt lonely living four hours away from her kids and grandkids.
The question then became – did we know enough to help the nurses and doctors make decisions which could possibly affect her care, or her future?
While in the medicated state, she seemed uncomfortable. Did something else hurt? Maybe they were giving her something that she was allergic to? In reality, the doctors will deal with the aneurysm first, so she would be plugged in and since she didn’t wear a medical bracelet, she “should” be okay until they’d find her family doctors’ contact info and have the files transferred over. Who was her doctor? When was the last physical performed? And did it show any concerns? We didn’t know, and the OHIP medical records were basic. Was that enough to trust?
The nurses tried to monitor the response. Every hour, they had to ask her questions, “Do you know what happened to you?” they’d ask her. “Do you know where you are? Can you tell us your name?”, looking for some sign of neurological response. Of course, they didn’t know she was deaf from one ear, so she wouldn’t have heard them anyway.
They administered Tylenol, because it’s a fairly safe drug to bring down the fevers she was having. But the Tylenol was causing a big drop in heart-rate. Did she suffer from high blood pressure? Wait a minute – was she on some sort of medication that they didn’t know about, that could be counter-reacting the Tylenol? Aneurysms can cause huge headaches, sometimes for months before the “burst” happens. Did she take anything prior to the aneurysm? Was she awake after, and took something that could’ve made things worse?
She was married for over 45 years. Her husband, was now legally blind and very hard of hearing. She had been his caregiver – which intensified after his stroke ten years ago, his encounters with cancer, high blood pressure and a slew of medications which needed refilling and supervising. She also looked after his brother, who had a stroke of his own and left him with Aphasia – a neurological disorder caused by damage to portions of the brain. Since this had happened to her now, were her two gents going to be okay? What are their medical situations? Who would look after them now?
Yes, this write-up is supposed to scare you. It should shake you up, and make you realize how little you know about each other (or how little people know about you). It should show you that it’s not always just about “writing your Will”, but about what could happen if, for a moment, you just can’t talk and share your important information. Will others be able to continue things for you, for when you return? And what happens if you do not return? I’m sharing this very personal story with you because of what happened to my mother this past Christmas Eve.
This has been a scary journey, and although I’m happy to say that my mother survived (even though she had a 2% chance!), I hope you will take the time to “look within” and share your important information with those that could help you, should you not be able to do so.
I don’t wish this journey on anyone. My wish is just to educate you on the choices you have while you’re still able to do so, and remind you that if you don’t trust sharing things – like current medical information, banking passwords, and comfort wishes, you can still reach out to your lawyer and ensure “someone” has the appropriate information at hand, just in case something happens.
Please at least consider looking at the WISH Booklet I've lovingly prepared. It makes sense, and it will be a reponsible way for you to have all your matters in place, at a very inexpensive price. It will not replace a Will or Powers of Attorney, it will complement them.
I wish you health and happiness, and many years of love and laughter!
Founder & Publisher, Silver & Gold Magazine
suzanne (at) silvergoldmagazine.ca