Those of you who read my books know that humor is my drug of choice. Okay, let me amend that. Humor and caffeine are my drugs of choice.
Many of you also know that my husband, Jack, has a wide variety of health challenges which, over the last couple of years, have come to require more and more care. I love the old Marine, feel blessed each day to have him in my life. Nonetheless, I need a little space to be me – not Jack’s caregiver, not even Jack’s wife, just – me. So, three days a week, Jack will be attending a senior activities center. I don’t know what the rest of the attendees will be doing – art projects, music, day trips is my understanding. Jack will be telling stories and amusing the young women who work there.
One of the requirements of attendance at the Activities Center is a current Advanced Directive. In other words, Jack was asked to put down in writing exactly what he would want done if, God forbid, he were unable to make the decision for himself as to when to pull the proverbial life support plug.
Since it is my job to make Jack’s life as stress free as possible, and since I already screw this up daily by coming apart at the seams over one thing or another, (yesterday it was galvanized screws. I kid you not), I filled out a directive too, just in case I go before him. If I die before him, he, after all, will be busy making flight reservations for Thailand. He claims it will be the job of the Thai undertaker to figure out how to get the smile off the face of his corpse.
A year ago I’d have told you there was no way I would outlive Jack. Yes, he has a myriad of physical challenges and I have no health issues except a little, controlled, high blood pressure. However, being a caregiver takes a toll. Look up the statistics. I dare you. Caregivers rarely outlive those for whom they care on a 24 hour a day basis. However, lately I am doing a little better at managing my own stress, working on those long, soothing exhales and calming inhales and, as I mentioned, Jack will be attending Senior Daycare in order to give me a much needed break each week – a time to be me.
So, back to the Advanced Directives.
Jack chose me to be his first choice responsible party. Now, I love the man dearly, but I chose someone else to decide when it was time to pull, or not to pull, the plug. Here’s why.
In the space marked special directions, Jack’s form states, and I’m going to put this in bold italics because I want you to really think about this instruction which I will be required by law to fulfill.
“Two, naked, beautiful twenty-two year old women are to be put in bed with me. If I don’t respond within twenty minutes, say goodbye and pull the fucking plug.”