Four years ago I promised myself to explore the prospects of dying with dignity through writing a book. I am now pleased to share with you the realization of this journey and welcome you to this website and blog for my book titled, WISHES TO DIE FOR. A wish is an invocation for a favorable outcome; a conclusion reached through the process of critical thinking. In essence, what begins as just another day for me as a physician in the Emergency Department becomes another day of reckoning for patients compelled to make healthcare decisions that require critical thinking in relationship to personal dignity. Nevertheless, major healthcare decisions force us to do or die, often with little regard for our personal wishes. While few of us wish to die, most of us appreciate the dignity in our freedom, choices and wishes that pay tribute to our lives as we reckon with death.
Personal wishes regarding healthcare decisions can be listed in an Advance Care Directive. Sadly, most directives typically ask more of patients while actually providing less choice and dignity. The prospect of death often presents two choices; to proceed with advance care or revert to an end of life plan. Presently, an Advance Care Directive can imply that we are to receive advance care, but frequently little attention is paid to the specific wishes regarding our end of life care. While being called upon to express our wishes in this directive, few of us give sufficient consideration to identifying personal wishes to die for, much less document them in writing. My book and blog offer food for thought regarding the integration of random thoughts and events that occur in life that affect or prompt our future personal healthcare decisions. Wishes can increase self-awareness and become powerful tools to use on a day of reckoning.
Dignity regarding our healthcare decisions can either be determined by our wishes or undermined by the coercions of others. Attaining what we wish for in life and death allows us to take ownership of the situation. When we acquiesce to others we defer taking personal responsibility. Dignity is dependent upon acknowledging what we wish for and distinguishing between two separate types of directives; Advance care (Alpha care) or end of life care (Omega care). In support of this awareness and out of respect for the granting of personal wishes, I have created a new wristband, the Alpha care/Omega care decision band. This decision band serves to alert others to provide the specific type of care that we wish for when faced with impending death. WISHES TO DIE FOR outlines end of life wishes from my personal perspective while calling on others to determine those wishes that would allow them to flourish throughout the process of dying.
National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) offers universal awareness and a call to action regarding our own day of reckoning; when living life is can no longer be perceived as a blessing. When this day arrives, I often end up caring for patients who no longer wish to live. Unfortunately, all-too-often these patients do not have any documentation regarding how best to allow them to transition from this life. I cannot tell people what to wish for in the moment they are called upon to reconcile life and death. However, I can offer WISHES TO DIE FOR on National Healthcare Decisions Day and encourage all people to begin now to reckon with end of life issues. My intention is to have WISHES TO DIE FOR ready for release on April 15th, just prior to National Healthcare Decisions Day. Hopefully, the release of this book will be the beginning of provocative conversation regarding personal wishes being foremost to achieving death with dignity.