* * Anonymous Doc

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Sir, just to get it down on the form here, who's your health care proxy?"

"I don't want one."

"No, I mean, who do you want to make medical decisions for you in case you're unable to make them on your own."

"Nobody. God will decide."

"No, let me explain. If we have to decide whether we should do a certain procedure or not, who do you trust to communicate your wishes. Your son? Your daughter? Your grandson?"

"God. God will decide."

"So you do not want to be kept alive artificially? You do not want to be resuscitated? Or you want us to do everything in our power to keep you alive? I just want to clarify, so we're able to follow your wishes if we end up in that unfortunate situation."

"I told you. I'm not making the decisions. God will decide."

"But does that mean you absolutely want to be kept alive by external means? Or does that mean you absolutely don't?"

"God will tell you."

"There's a reason we ask people to name a health care proxy. If there's no one we can ask in a situation where you can't make the decision, you're likely going to be presumed to be full code, and that we would do everything in our power to keep you alive. If that means keeping you on a ventilator, without brain activity, we would end up doing that. And we need to know if that is something you would want. Without someone to consult, you're leaving your decisions largely to the whim of whichever doctor decides to make a decision, and that may not be the decision that you would most want."

"I don't have the answer to any of that. If God wants me to be kept alive by machine, he will keep me alive by machine."

"Sir, I'm trying to explain as best I can but still be sensitive to what you're saying. God doesn't turn the machines on and off. People do. And our concern is that we want to do what you would be comfortable with, and what you want us to do, if it came down to keeping you alive artificially, or not. Neither preference is wrong, and you can change your DNR status whenever you feel like doing so. But as a default, it's important for us to know what your feelings are, because everyone approaches these issues differently. What we as doctors would do for you isn't necessarily what you want, although it may be."

"You're the doctor. Listen to God. If God wants you to keep me alive, keep me alive. If he wants you to let me go, let me go."

"And what if we don't hear God telling us what to do?"

"Then you're not listening hard enough."

"I need a phone number to put on this form."

"God doesn't have a phone."

"Yes, that's why the box is blank."

"Don't worry about me. God will decide."

"And you think God will tell us, the doctors, better than he will tell your family members?"

"Oh, definitely. I don't trust them at all."


  1. In Australia we have the option of Not for Resus based on Medical Specialist Opinion so these conversations tend to be shorter with people who are insistent on fence sitting!