Tomorrow, I go into surgery for my ankle - apparently, I am awesome enough at breaking things that I managed a spiral fracture in one side of my ankle and something that moved the bone away from my ankle joint in the other ankle while also tearing my ligament at the back of my foot.
So, 3 pins and a metal plate later and I will be a cyborg! So that's exciting.
I was doing the medical history thing with the nurse on the phone today to save time tomorrow - it's outpatient, so if the surgery at is 8:30, they want me there at 6:30 and I should be leaving by 11 or so. One of the (many, many) questions she asked me was: "Do you have a living will or an advance directive?"
They have to ask this with any surgery, I know. And it's not a very high risk surgery. But the question took me aback and not just for the reasons that it does for everyone.
Because, you know what? I used to have a living will. But it was made 8 years ago, in my Sociology of Death and Dying class and it doesn't much represent the things I worry about now, beyond the basic facts.
I still don't want to be kept alive on life support if I have no brain activity. If I have minimal brain activity and don't improve, pull the plug. It's pretty simple, really. I have no funeral directions beyond "please don't mourn someone who isn't me, please remember me with my flaws and all."
But other things have changed. Since 8 years ago, the person who is most likely to be responsible for my medical care if I can't make decisions is my partner. Because we are not (and cannot be) married, she has limited legal automatic right to these decisions.
So, while many heterosexually-partnered people (especially those who are not married) might have living wills, married couples need them to protect the injured/disabled person's rights. Queer couples? We need them to protect my right to have my partner make those decisions; to access medical information, status and care; and to override my parents if necessary.
Because there's a snag. My parents know that I do not want to be kept alive on life support past a very specific point. But, should everything go wrong tomorrow and I go into a coma, could my mother make that decision? I don't know.
And if it came down to Willow knowing what I want and my mother doing what she thinks best, Willow has NO legal standing unless I have a living will.
It's crazy how fast such a small medical situation (it's just a broken ankle, not a stroke, you know?) can drive home how different my life is now than when I was partnered with a man. So we'll be meeting with the living will/advance directive team tomorrow morning to set up some failsafes. They're good to have anyway - really, everyone should have one.
And I'm sure that everything will be fine. Why wouldn't it, right?
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