Everyone is commenting on the Terry Schiavo case this morning. Rather than join in with my own opinion, I'd like to ask everyone reading this who does not currently have a health care proxy (aka a living will) to get one made out and notarized as soon as possible.
Here are some specific measures of artificial life support that you should decide whether or not you wish to be instituted under such conditions when you are unable to provide express and informed consent:
1. Electrical or mechanical resuscitation of your heart when it has stopped beating and your condition is hopeless.
2. Nasogastric or gastronomy tube feedings, or abdominal gastric feedings when you are paralyzed and no longer able to swallow.
3. Mechanical respiration when your brain can no longer sustain your own breathing.
4. Blood transfusions when termination of life is inevitable.
5. All medications except pain medications.
If you're nervous about making your own health care proxy, the average cost of having an attorney prepare one is around $150.00. An attorney can also file your proxy with the county and advise you on any debatable points.