I gave up TV about 4 years ago (which has made a huge difference in my life, you should try it, just for 30 days and see what I mean) but after all these years I still keep up with one drama via the Internet… Grey’s Anatomy. It takes place in a hospital in Seattle and concerns the daily activities of doctors as do their work, Dr. Grey being one of the main characters. In a recent story line, a surgeon and former Chief of Staff of the hospital, is accidentally electrocuted and subsequently revived by extraordinary medical technology and drastic surgical interventions. He comes out of surgery barely alive, in a coma, on life support.
Does he have an Advance Healthcare Directive? Yes, great. Who did he appoint as his healthcare representative? Dr. Grey who is the daughter of a prominent doctor with whom the Chief had an affair many years ago and who is her superior? He didn’t bother to mention this little detail to her and it came as a complete shock. Not to mention that she was currently in the hospital after an emergency surgery during which she nearly lost her baby. She could barely think much less make a decision about her boss’ life or death.
There was pandemonium all around, everyone trying to figure out what to do with the comatose doctor. What would he have wanted? Surely he would have wanted everything and one doctor kept forcing treatments on him in his own best interests. Others thought it was time to let him go and argued to stop drastic measures.
Well, blahblahblah, more stuff happened and then he actually regains consciousness and sees what has happened to him, all hooked up to this and that, and he pitches a fit. He refuses this, refuses that, let me go, let me go. And this other doctor keeps shoving things in him and making him stay alive.
Cut to another patient who is clearly dying and the doctors are telling him there’s nothing more they can do. He needs to get his affairs in order and call hospice… and he pitches a fit. He wants everything, every test, every clinical trial, every new drug or surgery… bring it all on, I’m not going to die.
Turns out the same doctor who is trying to keep her Chief alive is also treating this dude who refuses to accept death as an option. After much back and forth discussions about choices, she puts the two men in the same room together to let them work it out. Not funny, but it was quite funny… the looks they gave each other!
What I find interesting about this is that this conversation is getting into mainstream homes and more people are going to start realizing how important it is to talk to your loved ones and your physician about end-of-life choices and filling out Advance Healthcare Directives so your wishes are carried out.
I’m hoping since their hospital is in the state of Washington where the Death With Dignity Act is law that they will take the story line to that level to help more people understand that it’s not about killing people, it’s about letting people die when they are ready to let go near the end of their lives on their own terms.