April 06, 2005

My Will Be Done

Terri Schiavo, the epicenter of current right-to-die debate, died on March 31. Schiavo had lived life in a persistent vegetative state since a potassium imbalance led to brain death in February 1990. If ever a case defined “lose-lose situation,” then this would be it. Ultimately, there are no winners here.

All of this wrangling could have been prevented with a simple document known as a “living will,” a document that states a person’s desires in the event that they lose the ability to speak for themselves. Ever the paranoid one, I have written one of my own. Here it is:

I, Ian Paul McGibboney, aged 24 years, 10 months and 29 days, and being of sound mind and body as of April 6, 2005, do hereby declare this to be my official living will and testament. Knowing the state of human life to be uncertain, I hereby declare that I want no part of a 15-year battle to determine who has custody of what’s left of my brain.

If, by happenstance, I am in Florida at the onset of incapacitation, I request to be whisked away as soon as possible, preferably to a state without such an insane governor. Someplace like California.

In the case that recovery seems possible, I am all for being kept alive on a respirator and undergoing any therapy conducive to my improvement. However, if three years of constant therapy and CAT scans show that nothing short of divine intervention will restore my brain functions, then let sleeping dogs lie. Please.

However, I do realize that a particularly sensational illness might attract attention by both legislators and the media. In that case, find enclosed an unflattering picture that I took in 2001, just before I had back surgery. I want this to be my official picture. Let people base their emotions on something other than how good I used to look. Additionally, coverage of my case should not take precedence over important news such as the second-deadliest school shooting ever, as happened during the Schiavo saga.

Furthermore, I shall not endorse any videos made of my behavior to justify my continued existence, even if such videos are heavily edited to make me look alert. Only videos made of myself during my life as an active and thinking human being shall receive my support, except when they’re embarrassing.

At no time should any politician or party, be they Republican, Democrat or anything in between, use any part of my illness as a tool for their respective political platforms. Unless such political grandstanding somehow results in effective prevention and support for concurrent and subsequent cases, it need not be even considered.

I vociferously object to any attempt by legislative bodies to write up “Ian’s Law,” designed to make exceptions to long-standing medical and legal practices. Hopefully this will be a moot point by then, because I’ll probably incite an “Ian’s law” or two sometime during the course of my active life.

Also, I wish not to be used as an example of upholding “the culture of life,” particularly by those who continue to support such horrific endeavors as the occupation of Iraq, torture of enemy combatants and the execution of prisoners.

Instead, I hope that all of these “right-to-life” types direct their energies toward repairing the lives of those who still stand a chance. These include, but are not limited to, America’s disabled, working people without health insurance and catastrophic patients. Maybe then, the fight to save one long-swept-away life won’t seem so politically transparent.

Finally, and most importantly, no mayo. I still have taste buds!

Witnesses: Anyone who reads this
Lawyer: the late Johnnie Cochran
Physician: Dr. Jack Kevorkian


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