by Mark Gavagan
Remember Terri Schiavo? She was the young woman who collapsed in 1990 for unknown reasons at the age of 26 and spent the next 15 years, until her death, in medical facilities being nourished through a feeding tube. Whether or not she was brain dead throughout this time has been a topic of impassioned debate and expensive, heart-wrenching litigation.
The legal documents needed to specify your wishes in this type of situation are called advance health care directives, which vary from state to state, but generally encompass a living will and medical power of attorney.
What would you want if something like what happened to Terri Schiavo happened to you?
Suppose you have not completed your advance health care directives and suppose something happened to you tonight.
Who are the people in the world you love more than anything? Gather them all together in your head for a moment, then divide them into two groups.
The first group believes with all its heart that the right thing to do is keep you alive at all costs, even if brain dead with virtually no hope of recovery. The second group believes with equal passion and conviction that you would never want to be kept alive by artificial means under such circumstances.
Would you want the people in each group to channel their grief and saddness into hatred toward the others and spend their entire life savings on legal fees, fighting to do what they guess you would have wanted?
If your answer is no, then get your affairs in order and complete your own advance health care documents.