Oh yes, we have made that fateful trip on several occasions, and each time I swear that it will be the last. On a good day (or night, which actually happens to be the best time to take the trip), we can make that 700 mile journey in just 11 hours. Now I have an “issue” and just cannot sit still for more than 5 hours. So if I am riding in the car, my husband knows to add at least an hour to any estimated driving time, since he knows we will need to stop for a bathroom break or meal. If we hit any traffic, we are looking at 14 hours or more. So, unlike those Sunday drives that we take, when it’s time to take a road trip, we are on a mission!
What makes these trips tolerable is that we both know exactly where we are going, and how we are planning to get there. If JD gets tired of driving, I can take over, and vice versa. He tends to sleep in the car when not driving, while I like to play navigator. If there’s traffic up ahead, I reach for the GPS to see what the estimated back up is. And if there is a huge slow-down, I check to see if there are any alternate routes.
Each of us should have someone, a friend or family member, who knows exactly what we would want, in case of a medical emergency or if we were incapacitated for some reason. It is important for someone else to know where you are headed. What direction would you personally take, should you get sick??
There are two important legal documents everyone should take time to complete -- a living will and a health care proxy form. A living will is also known as an advanced health care directive. It is simply a way for you to provide written instruction, directions if you will, for certain healthcare decisions that may come up over time. It reflects where you are now, so the document may need to be updated periodically. But it does address “big ticket items” such as whether you would want CPR or a breathing tube if you were incapacitated. It is a way to start a discussion with family members about your goals of care and can provide some comfort about difficult decisions that may need to be made at the end of life. The document is a mechanism by which you can provide directions about what it means to you to live (or die) with dignity.
But sometimes, a living will isn’t enough, so it is also important to designate a health care proxy. This is someone you trust and have had a discussion with about the direction you would like to take, who can speak on your behalf should you be unable to advocate for yourself. Here are examples from New York and Massachusetts. But it is important to find out what the law is in your state. Ask your healthcare provider about advanced health care directives, and make sure you know who you want navigating when you are too tired to keep driving on your own.
One drop of knowledge can ripple through an entire community~