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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DNR/DNI

How many people out there know what DNR/DNI means?
If your like most people you probably do not and that's sad because someday these abbreviations will become very important to you or a loved one.You may be put in the position of having to make this very difficult decision.
DNR means "do not resuscitate" and DNI means "do not intubate",In other words do not do CPR on me to the bitter end or put a tube down my throat or hook me to a machine that will continue to breath for me even if I'm brain dead.
When an emergency happens to you,or a loved one, this is not the time to figure out what your wishes are.
In all the visits that you have had with your doctor have you ever once told him exactly what it is that you want done when you are not conscious to make decisions? Have you told your family members or loved ones? Do you know that when you are not concise someone needs to make these decisions and if you have nothing in place the medical team will do everything they can to sustain your life even if you have no life left,they have to.
Here in Connecticut we have what is called a "Living Will".You tell your doctor exactly what it is you what him/her to do for you in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.At anytime you can change the rules as you feel the need to,Even if your already at the hospital on a stretcher,nothing is set in stone.
What you want done for you at say age 20 may not be what you want done for you at age 70 so changes are always allowed.
Most people do not like to talk about these things,there depressing and more easily ignored but this becomes very cruel to the loved one who is faced with decisions of ending or prolonging your care.
Since I work in the health care profession I have to help people make these types of care decisions almost weekly.Usually we try to set in place with the patients and family members exactly how far we will go to prolong this persons life.
No decision is a wrong decision if you want to be on a ventilator fed through tubes and machines that is just as correct as wanting to be allowed to die with comfort measures only(CMO).
My husband has been told by me,many times,that prolonging my life just to prolong it is really not an option for me.I have spoken with a Catholic priest many years ago, who worked with sick and dying patients,and he told me allowing nature to take its course is just as correct as using artificial means to keep a body alive.Both are acceptable in the eyes of the church.
I feel that if the time should come my husband knows where I stand.Do what you can for me but don't prolong my existence artificially.Being a Christian I believe that God has put me here for a certain length of time and when its my time to go home he will take me no matter what machine I'm hooked up to,he supersedes the world order.
Having a health care proxy written up with your wishes signed by you,your doctor and your family member is a way to allow your family to have no guilt when the decisions they make on your behalf are followed through,they are not guessing what you want they know what you want.
Next time your at your doctors office take the time to ask him/her to jot down what your feeling are on your end of life situations,if for some reason you are unable to speak for your self.Also ask about a health care proxy and how to go about setting one up. Trust me your doctor will appreciate the fact that your helping him/her and your family members make the choices when you are no longer able to say what you want.

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