True Stories from the Twilight Zone Part 1

There is a dimension of time and space where modern medical science allows us to linger before passing over and beyond the Great Divide. States have sought to address this waypoint in the Twilight Zone by mass producing easily signed directives to physicians designed to allow persons wishing to pass on without being kept alive by machines. The form is often referred to as a “living will” in the vernacular.

I Googled for the form and found someone is willing to sell you a document for ten bucks that is identical to that which is available for free at Revised Code of Washington 70.122.030. Now the form is fine, but it is simplistic, and mandates decisions made the signatory who is usually without either a law or medical degree.

True Story: The date is January 10, 2011. My best friend lays in a coma in Seattle. His brother and I are looking at the directive to physicians I drafted and my friend signed just months earlier. The neurologist thanks me for the clarity and ultimate discretion we vest with the medical attorney in fact, namely his brother. Doug was in the Twilight Zone, and he wasnt coming back. There had however been several days earlier where it was questionable whether he would return. Because we had a conversation about what the directive should look like, because we have some understanding of what it means to get the heart and lungs going again, and because I at least possess the legal understanding of what we were doing, we were allowed the grace to hang on to hope for just a few more days before removing life support.

The forms will not give you this personal intent as drafted expressing accurately the mix of legal and medical desires of the individual. Maybe that is why it is free.

More True Stories: I am a veteran of story after story of families coming in for the probate telling me the recently passed loved one had a directive to physicians neatly printed on a 4 X 6 card which, when received by the medical staff caring for their loved one,  meant right away, “care”, as we have come to understand it, was withdrawn. Death soon followed and no one in the family was really ready for the event.

Perhaps the question a person signing this document really has to ask themselves is How quickly do I want to leave the Twilight Zone?


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