Peace of Mind: sort your life out

The title of this blog post may lead you to believe that this will be a morbid post; 
but in fact, what it is, is a message of extreme importance and if you can get these things sorted, it will give you, your family and your friends true peace of mind way beyond your lifetime.

In this blog post I will discuss the following subjects:



  1. Making a Will (>18y/o) 
  2. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
  3. Talking openly about Organ Donation

A brief introduction in simple terms:

I wanted to write this post because I believe as a society we find it hard to talk freely and openly about our own desires for end of life care/Organ Donation. Some of us are in denial that death will ever happen to us (it will, sorry) and some of us don't even know it's possible that you can plan or dedicate someone special to help make decisions about your end of life care. How amazing is that? It's not only much easier for your medical and legal teams but also for your family, friends and YOU to know that you're being cared for in your best interests AND the way that you decided at all times. Not only that, but until you are no longer component at making decisions, all of these things can be updated at any time and really do not take long. Amazing.

So why is a 23 year old telling you about all of this?

When I was first diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour back in 2018, my main concerns were probably quite different to those of my family and friends because of my professional role as a Anaesthetic Practitioner. Having seen 100's of brain surgery's, lumbar punctures, PICC line insertions and of course, 1000's of patients on Neuro ITU; I became really concerned that my family didn't know anything about hospital stays, seriously ill people, CPR and dying. In short, I didn't want my death to be a trauma to them. I needed to get a Will set up and speak with my immediate family about the way I want to be cared for if the worst was to happen to me. Once this was done, I knew it was imperative I set up a formal "Power of Attorney" for both finance and health decisions. Respectively, I also needed them to know my feelings about dying and Organ Donation.

1. Writing a Will

I recently read that most people over 18 haven't written a Will because it's too time consuming or costly; both are untrue. If you have children, savings, pets, credit cards or property, you need to seriously consider writing a Will. Included in your Will is whether you want a cremation or burial and if you want to donate to any charities. 

Of course, Will's can be costly if like me, you utilised a solicitor to do it. However, she still only took the best part of 45 minutes. I don't have any children but I do have a long term partner and we own a house together, I also have substantial savings a few credit cards. It was great to get it written down that he could sort these things out if I died and vice versa. Meaning nothing would fall on my parents. 

You can write a Will online. It is so easy and quick to do, there really isn't any excuse to not have one. You don't even need to let anybody know what's inside of it; especially if your family is prone to arguing. It's a great way to have control over the things you love or your hard earned money beyond your lifetime. It's also a great time to ask family members if there's a particular heirloom they might like and it can be formally written into the Will. 

So go on and get organised!



2. LPA: Lasting Power of Attorney

Your LPA is someone or some people you have dedicated to be a decision maker with your health or your finances when you no longer can (alive, but incompetent at making sound decisions). As a person who is an LPA, it is your role to help the incompetent person make the best decisions for themselves rather than to take control on those decisions. You might hear this in the health setting as "next of kin", it's very similar to this. 

The LPA for health and finance are TWO SEPARATE ENTITIES so you need to fill out two forms, one for each entity, and one for each person you dedicate to that matter. I chose my Mum and Dad for both so filled out four forms altogether. 

Once you have dedicated your person or persons it is important to let them know, and to let them hear what your wishes are if you have a specific illness, like me. Again, they are not making out of the blue decisions for you, so fear not, they are making best interest decisions with your medical team and with you when you lack competency. Sounds weird, but it's nice to know that your LPA won't let you just become a number on a busy ward of sick patients. If you want to make any pre-cursive decisions e.g. Organ Donation or Do Not Resuscitate (DNAR), it's best to either fill out those forms already or at least write it down and sign it: then let your LPA know. Afterall, they act as your Attorney in decision making settings.

One of my strange concerns with my brain tumour is living in a vegetative state for 100's of years: thus it's my duty to let my LPA know that if this situation occurs, they then need to fill out a DNAR form to prevent me from being resuscitated again and again and again but ONLY if that specific situation arose. I don't want a DNAR being filled out if I'm in ITU after one surgery! Even if your LPA's disagree with your decision e.g. they may not believe in Organ Donation, it's still yours to make while you have competency. So get them written down! However, when you lack competency, they will always act in Best Interest according to the Mental Capacity Act.  My advice is, it's best to choose and LPA who knows you well and who you would trust to make apt decisions on your behalf, not someone who is likely to make decisions based on if it was them in your shoes.




3. Talking openly about Organ Donation

I wanted to speak about Organ Donation as I've seen around 20 "organ harvesting" procedures done at work in which countless lives have been saved thanks to that one patient. It's a very well choreographed procedure that happens at speed and with the same enormous dignity given to that of an alive patient. There is nothing butchering, painful or savage about this incredible procedure; it is an act of kindness that I urge you to choose. What remains of the patient beyond the procedure is handled by a team including myself; it is washed, diligently dressed and wrapped with the utmost of respect and finally laid to rest. It may not physically look like the person who went in once we're finished but you simply do not need healthy organs when your Earth life has ended: there are 1000's of people who do need them and who go on to live amazing and grateful lives. Adults, children, Mums and Dad's, brothers and sisters; maybe even one day it could be you in need. 

A highly specialized Organ Donation team visits a patient if there is a known chance they might be dying soon; this is usually in an ITU setting where the patient may have been sick for a while. There is also another type of death called 'Brainstem Death' where the patient may be brain dead but still ventilated and medicated (alive). Organ Donation is also perfectly suitable in this situation. Sometimes this sort of death occurs after a serious accident or a catastrophic event in the brain itself. 

Either way, in simple terms the specific organs themselves need to be alive and/or healthy to be given to someone else. Not all organs have to be harvested, in some cases only one or two are healthy enough and in some cases nearly all of them are suitable. Once harvested, in simple terms: they are frozen to preserve the cells. They all have a time limit of which they need to be put into the recipient so after harvesting the surgical team works fast; sometimes even flying a heart in a helicopter! It can be very exciting when you know that somewhere there is already a potential match: although we never find out who due to confidentiality reasons. 

Unfortunately for me, it is highly likely from a brain tumour perspective that I will be unable to donate my organs should my death result from active cancer. (Medical teams make this judgement based on all of your history: health, travel and social!) However, until that point, if the Lord decides that a big red London Bus seals my fate I will absolutely be donating my organs. 

I'm so lucky to have received formal letters to say how many lives were saved by each procedure and I treasure them dearly. They mostly take place in the middle of the night so quite often it had been a 24 hour working day for me. Please please please talk to your loved ones about organ donation and know that beyond your Earth life you can really make such a difference.

If you want to read more about Organ Donation then follow this link.  Remember, in the UK, Organ Donation is now an opt out service only (yay!); this means unless you opt out your healthy organs will be donated. If you have any questions or comments please email me at: lobeyourselfblog@gmail.com

Comments

  1. Thank you for your really amazing article. Actually, that's what most of the people don't care about but at the end, people regret on their mistakes at the deathbed. Thinking about peace of mind at this stage - means when you have time - and in such a positive way is really appreciable.

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