Friday, April 29, 2011

Do Not Resuscitate

Do Not Resuscitate is the underlying consideration in the drafting of every Personal Directive, the legal document stating a patient's wishes in the event they lose the ability to direct their own medical treatment.  Do not resuscitate.  Easy to say.  Hard to do.  No matter how logical, merciful, and desirable DNR may be, our natural human tendency as family and caregivers is to try to prolong life, hoping against hope that a medical (or other) miracle will turn things around.  Even from the patient's perspective, the one who documented and notarized DNR sometimes many years in advance, the body's natural will to survive inevitably kicks in.  The human body on a very ancient basal level is programmed to try to survive.  The result?  The patient goes on suffering while family and caregivers dither; the very thing the patient was trying to avoid.  The answer?  I'm not sure there is one.  Being more specific in drafting the Personal Directive may only result in tying the hands of those charged with carrying it out.  Right now the Personal Directive is the best thing we've got.  Make sure you have one.