There's Nothing Wrong with 'Your Life-Your Choice'

America is a Nation of planners.  Throughout life, we are constantly planning.  Here in Texas we plan for hurricane season each year, even though most years bring no significant storms.  Others plan for back-to-school, or how to afford college for the kids, or when to retire.  Our daily grind is one planning session after another.  Oddly, though, few people think to plan for the universal eventuality of death, the one event we all have in common. 

Last weekend we learned that the Veteran's Administration has resurrected a planning pamphlet entitled "Your Life, Your Choice."  The conservative hand-wringing started almost immediately, with cries of umbrage arising from this website, Fox News, and other conservative outlets.  As someone who works alongside the dying every day, I see nothing wrong, and indeed I embrace, any tool which opens the dialogue within families regarding end-of-life wishes.

My spouse and I obtained durable medical and financial powers-of attorney and living wills while we were in our 20's.  Most of my early career in healthcare was spent in the acute-care hospital setting, and I spent enough time in the ICU to recognize that my personal wish was not to suffer through a technologically-supported "life" if the hope for recovery was slim.  Our discussion was short as we quickly realized our feelings were mutual.  We then talked with our families, picked a healthcare surrogate, and put legal papers in place to detail our wishes with no ambiguity. 

Most of the public has not worked in an ICU or spent time in a Hospice setting.  Denial is a powerful antidote to quickly quell any discussions around the dinner table about "what Mom wants to do in the end."  Over and over my peers and I have worked with shell-shocked children and family members who never thought their strong parents would have a stroke, Parkinson's, or other debilitating illnesses.  Suddenly the need is before these poor souls and they must decide on short notice:  DNR?  NG Tube?  Ventilator?  How many times a day across America do Social Workers and Nurses face a blank stare and the words "As a family, we never really talked about it."

I am adamantly opposed to any governmental mandate on end-of-life decisions; however, "Your Life, Your Choice" is simply a booklet to break down the walls of denial.  Reticent Veterans and their families will have a tool which can prime the pump of discussion and open the discussion regarding what final wishes are desired.  Any resource which can ease the transition in this most difficult time of life should be supported, not rejected.  Reconsider your opinion on "Your Life, Your Choice," and have the discussion with Mom and Dad before its too late.

Anthony Ughetti is a Healthcare Manager who lives and works in Texas.
America is a Nation of planners.  Throughout life, we are constantly planning.  Here in Texas we plan for hurricane season each year, even though most years bring no significant storms.  Others plan for back-to-school, or how to afford college for the kids, or when to retire.  Our daily grind is one planning session after another.  Oddly, though, few people think to plan for the universal eventuality of death, the one event we all have in common. 

Last weekend we learned that the Veteran's Administration has resurrected a planning pamphlet entitled "Your Life, Your Choice."  The conservative hand-wringing started almost immediately, with cries of umbrage arising from this website, Fox News, and other conservative outlets.  As someone who works alongside the dying every day, I see nothing wrong, and indeed I embrace, any tool which opens the dialogue within families regarding end-of-life wishes.

My spouse and I obtained durable medical and financial powers-of attorney and living wills while we were in our 20's.  Most of my early career in healthcare was spent in the acute-care hospital setting, and I spent enough time in the ICU to recognize that my personal wish was not to suffer through a technologically-supported "life" if the hope for recovery was slim.  Our discussion was short as we quickly realized our feelings were mutual.  We then talked with our families, picked a healthcare surrogate, and put legal papers in place to detail our wishes with no ambiguity. 

Most of the public has not worked in an ICU or spent time in a Hospice setting.  Denial is a powerful antidote to quickly quell any discussions around the dinner table about "what Mom wants to do in the end."  Over and over my peers and I have worked with shell-shocked children and family members who never thought their strong parents would have a stroke, Parkinson's, or other debilitating illnesses.  Suddenly the need is before these poor souls and they must decide on short notice:  DNR?  NG Tube?  Ventilator?  How many times a day across America do Social Workers and Nurses face a blank stare and the words "As a family, we never really talked about it."

I am adamantly opposed to any governmental mandate on end-of-life decisions; however, "Your Life, Your Choice" is simply a booklet to break down the walls of denial.  Reticent Veterans and their families will have a tool which can prime the pump of discussion and open the discussion regarding what final wishes are desired.  Any resource which can ease the transition in this most difficult time of life should be supported, not rejected.  Reconsider your opinion on "Your Life, Your Choice," and have the discussion with Mom and Dad before its too late.

Anthony Ughetti is a Healthcare Manager who lives and works in Texas.