Are you ready to let go?

A recent USA Today story (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/06/injured-hunter-chooses-death-over-paralysis/3461259/) discusses the case of Tim Bowers, an Indiana man who fell 16 feet from a deer tree stand and crushed his cervical back.

After he was stabilized, doctors awakened Tim and they and family explained to Tim that he would be paralyzed for his life and would likely require a breathing tube for life as well.  Tim, whose wife Abbey is expecting their first child – a girl, did not hesitate to tell doctors that he did not want continued assistance breathing.  So, knowing the effect of his decision, he instructed doctors not to continue breathing assistance.

A living will would not have helped Tim under Colorado law, because he was not terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state.  But he did need to have a surrogate health care decision maker selected, which is accomplished through a health care power of attorney.  In addition, he could decide who can receive his medical information and documents by designated recipients in a compliant form of release so instructing his health care providers.  In addition, Tim needed to have some discussion, even under his circumstances, with his surrogate decision maker.  Indeed, the article points out that Tim and Abbey, shortly before the accident, had discussed such a possibility and Tim told Abbey that he did not want to be in a wheelchair for life.

Have you done all the planning you need to do, including ensuring the documents are in place and that you have had the important discussions with your family or surrogate decision makers?