Modern Medicine: Are you prepared? Do not ignore this!


You are going to die. I have it on good authority, encompassing all the various religions (including Atheism) that unfortunately, the evidence would appear too strong. We are all going to die. Even Harry Houdini has been unable to send a message back to us. If Harry couldn’t escape the undertaker, where does that leave you, Auntie Annie, Uncle George and even me?

OK, dying is something we all consign to sometime in the future, and anyway, I’m not ready to die yet. I jokingly used to proclaim that if I couldn’t take it with me, then I was not going! But that is just a good throw-away joke line.

What prompted this week’s column was a phone call from the friend of someone who was terminally ill. The gist of it all was basically a request for information on how to pull the plug. The friend was totally genuine in his concern, but was taken aback when I advised that the patient was the one to make decisions.

That brings us to “wills”. If you die without making a will (intestate) then everyone hops in for a slice of the action, right the way through to the gardener and the soi dog. Sorting that lot out takes months (sometimes years), and money is not dispersed until all claims have been verified. (You can relax a bit here – the soi dog won’t get anything.)

But there’s another important will here – your Living Will. If it gets to the stage where you are ensconced in the ICU, unconscious and unable to function on any level. Who has the authority to tell them to pull the plug (or continue treatment)? If you don’t nominate somebody in your Living Will then nobody has the authority. And while your body is lying there, the taxi meter is ticking away.

However, there is confusion in the minds of many people, as to what a “Living Will” actually is and what it covers. Remember that we are talking about terminal situations here. Not situations from which it would be reasonably expected that you will recover and still have a good quality of life. A fractured hip when you are 90 is a serious situation, but provided you are healthy otherwise, then it would be expected that you would recover. You would still be able to have a beer with your mates (after January 15, 2022 if the government will allow it) or play Scrabble or whatever your pursuits were before the incident. In other words, the expectancy of a reasonable quality of life is there.

However, if you are in the terminal phase of metastatic cancer, which has progressed despite treatment, the future quality of life is not there. Artificially prolonging life under that situation is then covered by your Living Will.

These scenarios do tend to be common place – we are all going to die, and since, in general, we are older than our Thai wives, we can expect to rock up to the pearly gates first to be fitted up with a harp and a comfy cloud.

Unfortunately, whilst it may be ethereal up there, you may have left bedlam down here. As well as grieving wives and family you may have left a financial mess.

Answer this question: when you die, how does your wife get the money necessary for daily living? Was this something you paid her each month, like a salary? But now you’re not there to pay that salary.

Where does your money come from? A pension or superannuation that is paid regularly directly into your account? And does your wife/partner have any access to that account? There are many large sums of money held by banks, which those left cannot access.

The time to make a Living Will is now, not next month. You can request the necessary paper warfare from the hospital’s Registration personnel.