Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Health Care Proxy

Everyone needs a Health Care Proxy. If you don't have one, get one. You would have had to be living under a rock last year if you don't know the tragic story of Terri Schiavo and the battle her parents waged to keep her alive while her husband battled to let her die, according to her wishes, he claimed.

But, what happens if you're in a bad automobile accident and rendered unconscious and you need some type of surgery? If you're married, your spouse can give consent to that surgery but, if you're not married (or your marriage isn't recognized by your state or local government) who gives that consent? What if having that surgery is time sensitive, but risky at the same time?

What happens if you have a stroke that renders you incapable of making decisions for yourself, and the long-term health care facility you are in isn't treating you with the correct medications or therapies? Who has the right to advocate for you without a health care proxy?

Lisa and I have mutual health care proxies drawn up. I provided my gynecologist, my chiropractor, my neurologist, my dentist, and my primary care physician with copies of my health care proxies.

Our next-door neighbor Mary, after watching her mother die under nursing home "care" decided that she didn't want to die with the same indignities that her mother did. Mary's mother had Alzheimer's and the oldest daughter had general power of attorney and therefore stripped Mary of her health care proxy authority with the stroke of a pen, and so Mary couldn't make any decisions for her mother. She knew, for example, that her mother's foot/ankle was broken, but the staff insisted that her mother just wouldn't stand on it out of laziness. Mary fought and fought and fought with the staff and her sister (who only listened to the nursing home staff), but couldn't get her mother treated properly. She had to get a lawyer just to get her mother's foot x-rayed and, when it was x-rayed, it was determined that she had several fractures in the foot -- a result of her foot dragging on the ground while they just pushed her around in her wheelchair, blissfully unaware that the woman's foot was caught underneath.

Mary drew up a health care proxy, giving Lisa and I authority to make medical decisions on her behalf. Her two daughters have nothing to do with her, and basically Mary is alone. I spoke about her in an earlier post last year.

So, anyway, I got an envelope in the mail yesterday from the Veteran's Affairs office in Steuben County. It seems that my father has given me sole Health Care Proxy regarding his medical care and treatment. My Aunt Wanda is an alternate agent if I can't act as agent. This came as a complete and total surprise.

I'm surprised, but I'm not, I guess. My brother and nephew have both done a lot of sucking up lately, when they couldn't be bothered with him before he had his stroke. But then again, they both think they're going to get a vehicle from my father, too, so that explains that. I thought my father was closer to my brother, since he lived down there and my brother has been stepping and fetching for him for more than 2 months now. My father may be a lot of things, but he's smart enough to know that my brother or nephew would not make decisions for my father based on his best interests, only theirs. They'd pull the plug in a heartbeat, if it meant they'd get those vehicles. At the same time, he's still legally married to Le, and he probably is pretty confident that, not only would she pull the plug, but she'd be likely to ask for him to be injected with something lethal.

At the same time, I feel burdened with this new information. Of all the people my father could have chosen, he chose me. He has two sons and three daughters. My brother, I've already mentioned. My half-brother sees my father only occasionally. I have two half-sisters (whom I've never met), who have nothing to do with him, either. He has two sisters with whom he is very close. He has a half-brother. He has a step-daughter with whom he has remained very close over the years. He has two grandchildren who live very near to him (my nephew and my daughter). I don't know if "burdened" is the right word for what I feel, but I know that I also feel honored to know that, of all these people, and even with his knowledge of my support of Le and my cooperation with the investigation, he still trusts ME to make his health care decisions for him.

It makes me sad for him, in a way.

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We finally made some decisions this weekend. We've been talking and talking and talking about what we were going to do with the entryway, and over the past three years or so we've picked up samples of floor tiles, but never really did much. We made decisions, bought paint, and have chosen a floor tile based on our painting scheme. We've decided we want our entryway to be an extension of our gardens (front AND back) so that when you come into the house, regardless of where you come in from, you can still have that garden feel. We decided on a very, very light sage color for the walls -- almost white. We will paint the doors a medium sage, and the mouldings will come off and be replaced with dark sage. The floor tile is a creamy white with small "splashes" of sage.

We won't be able to get started this weekend, as we're going to the southern tier to spend some time with Le, and make some much-needed repairs in her trailer. We'll spend the night with Wanda and Bob, then go back to Le's on Sunday, finish up with the repairs, then we'll bring Vanessa home with us, where she'll spend the week next week with me.

Perhaps I'll put a paint brush in her hands, too....

We're planning to actually do some stuff while Vanessa is up with us. There's the National Toy Hall of Fame and, at the same museum, there's all these exhibits. As inquisitive as Vanessa's mind is, we're thinking this could be a real fun day. At the Strasenburgh Planetarium for that week, they've got a dinosaur exhibit from 13,000 years ago. They also have a really great show called The Tenth Planet which looks really interesting. The museum has exhibits about Frederick Douglass, a time capsule from 1873, and other interesting exhibits.

This summer, we want to take her to the Cave and Underground Boat tour. She's great to take places, because she has such a desire to learn.

Of course, we'll sit and knit, too. She's had a couple of months to practice knitting, and now it's time for her to learn the purl stitch, so that she can start making motifs and different patterns.

You know those things that you put on the arms of your chairs to protect the fabric? And then there's the one that goes behind the head, to protect the fabric from oils in people's hair? Well, I made one of those ones for the head, since Lisa tried to iron the existing one and burnt the shit out of the fabric. I cranked it out in one day and we're so pleased with it, I'm going to do the armrest thingies now, too.

I tore out every stitch I'd knitted so far for little Brandon's blanket. I've decided that I'm not going to do it in strips -- too much of an ass-ache to put it together. So, I've ordered 36" circular needles so I can cast on 300 stitches and knit the whole thing as one. I think, in the long run, it will be easier and go faster.

The little guy had a birthday last week. He turned 3! I talked to him on the phone -- what a little jabber-jockey he is! Just like his mother.

Joe has a woman. Her name is Taylor, and I really, really like this girl. She's very personable, engages easily, and doesn't take any "male" shit from him. I told him the other day that I really like Taylor, and that I like her for him. He simply said, in a sort of surprised tone, "Well, thank you." I think he and the little woman have been talking about co-habitation because he's been dropping little hints about going out on his own. Last night he said something about moving out this summer -- sort of jokingly, but not. He's going to be 23 in June, and yes, he's plenty old enough, and more than ready and capable of making his own way. *I* am not ready, though. Joe and I have always been so close, that it will be very hard for me to let go.

*sigh*
I've finished four blocks now for the new baby's blanket. I've done a yellow duckie, a yellow pear, a blue fish, and a blue sailboat. I'm currently working on a purple dragonfly. I'm having a ball doing these blocks, and I can usually crank one out about every 2-3 days, depending on how late I sit down for the evening, and what time I need to go to bed.

I discovered this past weekend that I've got about 40 skeins of yarn that I've bought for various projects.

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