at the end of it all

It’s Sunday, and here in Central New York we are getting some lake effect snow fall.  There’s already an inch on the ground, and no signs of stopping soon.  Current mood: meh.  We all know it’s coming, but like a monthly period although it’s expected it’s not necessarily welcome.

I’ve thought a lot this weekend about the past three months.  If nothing else, last weekend lead me to spend last evening with three + of my amazing friends I admittedly haven’t spent time with in years.  Good friends are absolutely invaluable.  I cannot stress this enough.  People come and go in and out of our lives, but our friends, the family we choose, will always remain.

I’ve gone back and forth this weekend contemplating whether or not I should explain or defend myself against the lies and half truths he’s been telling about me.  I went from being an abused woman at a hotel to being accused of and having hotel staff, police, family and who knows what else believe I was high on ecstasy and xanax, and drunk off my ass.  And this somehow warranted/justified him assaulting me.  I’m sad that law enforcement did not once think to question his story, and were never concerned with whether or not I was all right, did he hurt me, did I need medical attention.  That was the general consensus once people heard an alcoholic had been spotted drinking, that was the only thing that mattered.  There’s still such a stigma to being alcoholic that it takes precedence over any other facts of a situation.  So much so, that I was questioning myself.

That’s fucked up, people.

Ultimately, that’s not what is on my mind today.   The last three months of my life I had spent in complete happiness are what I’m thinking about today.

I’ve saved everything from our short time together.  Our 1st date, we met at Sylvan Beach.  I’d never been to the amusement park, a holdover from the 50’s or so.  Still has the old rides

Sylvan Beach, July 2016.
Sylvan Beach, July 2016.

.  Still has the old games.  He showed me Fascination, which I managed to win my 1st two games playing.  I kept every winning ticket, and carried some with me in my purse/wallet/pocket.  I actually had a red one on me when he assaulted me.  The zoltan card, there’s a fortune teller there.  The purple/pink thing, a butterfly he picked from the duck pond.  I hung it from my rear view mirror

two dozen roses!
two dozen roses!

before I left the parking lot that night.  It was a great day, one I will never forget.

This is the vase, teddy bear, card and one dried rose from the two dozen red roses Jeff sent to my office after our 5th date.  Our 4th date was at my sister’s wedding, which we set as our official relationship date.  Rather soon, but it was appropriate.

Various prints of photos
Various prints of photos

In the day of digital, it’s a novelty to have actual snapshots in hand you can hang on your wall or physically hand to someone else to look at.  This is a collection of photos of Jeff that I printed because I wanted to be able to look at them without having to turn on my phone.  I had some hanging up at the office, some hanging around my apartment.  I wanted to be able to look at my happiness whenever and wherever I could.

Subsequent dates: a ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad for the Loomis Gang Train Robbery.  No so coincidentally, he used to be an actor and one of his ex girlfriends who he assured me was crazy (and I only half doubt that) was still active with the

trip souviners
trip souvenirs

group.  I still have the plastic jewel ring the priest gave me to hold on to.  Ritz and Ragtime!  Tickets from the fundraiser for the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica.  Again, Jeff was a participant.  It was a 20’s themed speakeasy event.  We had a fantastic time, until a man who was exceptionally political got overzealous and offended a LOT of people after the official event was over.  Jeff definitely took offense, and rightly so, but the way he went about voicing his displeasure was not tactful.  It never sat well with me.

Ritz & Ragtime.  Adirondack Scenic Railroad.  My sister’s wedding.  New York State Fair.  Thendara, after the train robbery.  5th date, hospital room.  4th date, ER because he’s having a heart attack.

Not sequential but some of the many pictures I have of our brief time together.

more things that Jeff has either bought for me or  given to me, that I’ve set aside to give back to him.  The Old Spice and the frosting, I bought that to keep at my place.  The mug, Shutterfly.  I made that a month ago.  All the things from the various nerd block boxes he got for me…I’m certain at some point he’s going to insist he wants this back because he paid for them.

I wonder if this is part of his game, paying for things that aren’t asked for.  He paid for a hand painted print of an artist I was incredibly fond of, despite me telling him I wanted to ask the artist if I could make arrangements to put a deposit down on his work.  He’s not getting that back.  If he argues it, I will pay the artist for it and the artist can pay Jeff back.

Ultimately, this broke my heart but it didn’t break me.  I’m not posting pictures of the cats & dogs because that also breaks my heart, that I won’t be able to see them.  I actually broke down and sobbed in Wegmans Friday night because I couldn’t avoid the dog food aisle.

20161106_084822

Okay I couldn’t help it.  This beautiful boy, Alistair, has my heart with him.  He always gave me that look.  I would be lying if I said there were no tears rolling down my cheeks right now, missing him like I do.  I know he’s well taken care of.  Jeff is a monster about a lot of things, but not about his animals.

The woman in me wants to question myself, how I formed my opinion of this man I so obviously fell in love with.  The pragmatist in me says to look back at this post and don’t lose sleep over how I feel.  The human in me wishes this never came to pass.  The granddaughter & niece in me says I know who I am, and what I deserve.  They trust that my broken heart won’t mean broken principles.

I have to navigate how to deal with the fallout.  There’s more to this than simply  having been beat up last weekend.  He will make it a point to bring shit up.  Despite how much of a douchebag Jeff Hartz is, I have my own part to answer for.  My part did never, ever, ever warrant him assaulting me.  Regardless of what he says, I will admit to drinking and knowing I shouldn’t be.  I know this is important, but my hope is for the sake of this situation it’s secondary to what he did to me, and that he had no right to assault me, regardless of his reasoning.  He’s working on blacklisting me from conventions.  He pulls weight; he’s part of the scene.  I’m new and nobody knows me, other than what they’re hearing from him.  I found something I love and feel a part of, and I will fight for it.

undewrestimate

mic drop.

When you don’t feel your voice is heard

It started like any other day the past three months:

empirestatebldgb

Okay, it’s not like I’ve spent time on the top of the Empire State Building every day for the past three months.  That’s me, wearing my Gram’s gorgeous soft grey leather coat, grinning for the camera at the British gent who offered to take our picture.  See the handsome man kissing me on the head?  He does that. A lot.  He loves me.  I love him.  We are planning the next 50 years of our lives together.  Wouldn’t you if you were us?  WTF, I mean look at us!  We can’t be any happier!!!

crap

……what happened?  How did that absolute bliss lead to this heartbreak?  The outside looks really shitty, but the inside is infinitely more devastated than the outside.  I’ve been knocked around a few times before, it seems to be an unfortunate recurring intermittent theme which goes with having a vagina.

I will try to keep this concise for brevity sake, as the Dude would say.  I have much more to offer about the back story but for the purposes of what happened last weekend, it’s going to be brief.

bday

That’s me, my birthday (July 12), 2015.  The shirt is ultimate space fleet.  It’s a fantastic shirt.  See the necklace?  That’s a butterfly necklace from Avon.  It’s a simple silver butterfly.  It was my Gram’s.  I’ve worn it so much since she died that the silver on the back has worn off.  That’s a glass of water with a straw in it, my mom’s drink.  You don’t see my birthday margarita.  Or the one or several birthday beers I had.  Without being dramatic, I’m an alcoholic and last year on my birthday, I was in denial and not in recovery.

feb

Fast forward to February 2016.  I’m out of rehab.  Breathing clean air.  Formally ended a long term relationship which was over for me for months but I never meant anything other than good things for him and was mostly disappointed that happiness wasn’t in the cards for us together.

When it isn’t right, it’s not right.  I won’t go into that because it’s not relevant to this story, but it’s a story for another time.

It gets to be summer, 2016.  I think it’s time to start looking for people to share my life with.  You don’t have friends with single friends, and you don’t hang around in bars (anymore) so online dating it is.   Frankly, the last relationship started online and other than it ultimately wasn’t the relationship for us, it was a good way to meet each other.

2016-07-19b

Yep, I look cute.  This was my picture (I think the main picture) on PlentyOfFish.  I love everything about it.  The wrinkles around my eyes, my dimples, my crooked teeth and smile.  I love it because it’s me.  All of me. Not something I’m used to seeing.

Still sober, I met Jeff at Sylvan Beach in July, 2016.  We had a fantastic first date, playing marco polo with our phones until we found each other.  It was a geek match made in heaven.  His main POF picture was him popping out of the TARDIS.  Despite the hour distance apart, I was intrigued.  He’s amazing!  He’s charismatic, he’s thoughtful.  He has AMAZING pets (who I still can’t think of without crying).   Overly helpful, amazing, gracious, completely spectacular.

img_4246

yep, I actually made this and printed it at Kinney Drugs.  Several copies.  I was in heaven, he was so handsome, I felt so beautiful.  It was a literal dream come true.  Squeeeeee!!!!

Without going into more detail, we set our relationship status date to August 7, 2016.  It was our 4th date, I asked him to my sister’s wedding.  For our 5th date, I took him to the emergency room because he had a heart attack.  This shit cannot be made up.  6th date was in his hospital room.  Watched the Battlestar Galactica movie and also a fantastic movie called Bronzed.  Things escalated from there.  My family loves him, his mom seems to like me, his dogs definitely like me, I can’t be happier!  I can’t see a downside to this.  He’s been looking for his geek queen, I’ve always secretly hoped for a sexy king of the geeks to sweep me off my feet.  And there you have it.  There we are.

We spent a day at the dog park with Alistair and Rose.  We spent a day on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad for the train robbery (which he was an actor with in the past).  I attended an alumni event for his former high school with him.  We spent another day on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad checking out the fall foliage.  Jeff took me to my first Comic Con, it was a one day event in Utica.  I’d met his friends, their wives, his friends’ children.  I had seen the light in more than one father’s eyes as he talks about his kids.  I’ve met some of their kids, and they are as awesome as their parents.

mass

Jeff took me to my first regional convention.  SuperMegaFest!!  This is me with two of my favorite artists.  I had an amazing time.  The geek in me absolutely found her home, and never wanted to leave.

…I’ve been so happy in memories, I nearly forgot to bring this story back to present via the back storyline.

Here it is.  Buckle up.  Strap yourselves in.  It’s HORRIBLE.  You can NOT even imagine.

I’m serious.

It’s TERRIBLE.

SHHHHH…….  Don’t tell ANYONE.  I’m serious.  If you read this, you’re sworn to secrecy . Pinky swear.

Yep, that never works, does it.  It never did with me, anyhow.  So, the spoiler is that I had been drinking on the weekends at Jeff’s house.  I’d buy a six pack of Fat Tire (if you’ve never had it, I highly recommend it), and drink that over the weekend.  It wasn’t every weekend, it wasn’t based on anything other than I enjoy the flavor of beer.   But, since I’m an admitted alcoholic and had been to rehab earlier this year, it’s not something I’d advertised.  I’m not engaging in a conversation about it being okay or not, or how it pertains to my sobriety.  That’s a relevant conversation, but not one that has any relevance on this situation.

The weekend of SuperMegaFest I was drinking.  The weekend of Long Island Doctor Who I was also drinking.

The difference between the two, other than the assault?

Again, I’m not going to defend myself with details neither accurate nor relevant, but Jeff thought I got into my car and drove drunk to the gas station to fill it up on Saturday in anticipation of the drive home Sunday.  That is literally what he felt warranted and justified him physically  and not metaphorically throwing me out of a hotel room on Long Island, with any of my belongings he didn’t feel he owned in tow.

I’m not kidding.  I wish I was exaggerating.  That was his reason.  For this:

 

My only regret with this is that when I recorded this the day after I was assaulted, I only thought of it as being thrown around and slapped around.  This is an entire conversation that needs to take place, why we don’t call assault what it is.

Since the entire event, there’s been this creepy silence, an ugly detente.  There’s an entire dynamic of him calling my mom as soon as he assaulted me and schmoozing her into thinking she had to come pick  him up if I didn’t “patch things up with him” and bring him home with me that I’m saddened by.  He refuses to allow me to make arrangements to get my things that are at his house as well as give him back his own things.   I’ve not harassed him.  I left him a voicemail several days ago, texted him several days ago with specifics of what I know is there that I want back, and because of his silence sent him a message via Facebook today.  His response was apparently to block me on Facebook or some other sort of accusation of impropriety as shortly after I sent the message, Facebook was kind enough to give me a message asking me if I needed to take a break.

Despite how much I may want to, I can not and will not attest to anyone else’s interaction with Jeffrey Peter Hartz.  Although I have heard and read things, I know only my own experience.  I do hope that my retelling of my experience may prevent this from happening again, but from what I’ve learned  I don’t have a great amount of hope for that.  My greater hope is for a better discussion about what is and isn’t abuse, and what to do and how to react to it.

If anyone reading this wishes to connect with me, my email is: ShannonLea1218@gmail.com and I can be found on Facebook via the same email address.  Let’s connect so eventually there won’t need to be more than a historical discussion about domestic abuse.

 

Video post because it’s time for a format shake up.

 

I hope you take the time to watch this.  It’s about 8 minutes long.  I know it’s me, but I’ve watched me four times now and I’ve cried each time because it doesn’t stop hurting less.

So much has changed over the past several months, but of everything I can think to write about this is so much more important.

It is NEVER okay to hit someone.

You will NEVER have a legitimate reason to accost someone.

You will NEVER have another opportunity to lay your hands on me in this lifetime and get away with it like you did last night.

I PROMISE you that.

Back after a hiatus, and with a purpose

So, I haven’t posted in several months.  I’ve been dealing with severe depression to the point of suicidal thoughts.  I’ve also been drinking on a daily basis.  Obviously this is a seriously bad situation.

Bipolar depression is an absolute bitch.  I’ve worked with my psychiatrist over the last several months to find a medication which will help with both.  I’ve been prescribed a new medication a few months ago, that has thankfully dragged me out of daily suicidal thoughts.  It wasn’t until I had gone a few weeks without considering how I could kill myself without my family knowing it was intentional that I knew I was improving.

The more recent event, which is technically a multi-year culmination of addiction, is that I’ve decided to seek treatment for my alcohol addiction.

I have a lineage of significant alcoholics.  I have an addictive personality, and alcohol (beer) is my primary addiction.  Aunts and uncles on both sides of my family have very serious issues with alcohol addiction.  There may be other substances involved, but I can say for certain that alcohol use runs rampant.  I literally was taught by the age of 8 how to pour beer from a tap without too much foam because one uncle had a fridge in his basement with a keg inside and a tap on the outside.  Sometimes I think my catholic Irish heritage promoted having kids to go on beer runs.

My father’s father was killed as a result of injuries he sustained in a fight at a bar.  The official family story is he was beaten for defending a woman’s honor.  The more likely story was he was stepping out with her and someone took offense to that.

Another tale I was told was that the day Kennedy was assassinated my dad, who was 13 at the time, woke his father up to tell him the news.  This was a seriously Irish catholic family.  Supposedly, his dad punched my dad or threw him across the room or something like that, thinking he was being lied to.

My family is famous for tall tales.  I’ve got plenty.  But this isn’t about them.  This post is about my tale, tall or not.

Why am I disclosing all of this?  My significant other, when I told him I told everyone at work about what I’m working on, was “why would you tell them?  It’s none of their business”.  My response is “why wouldn’t I?”

I think this is like coming out of the closet.  I hope that analogy doesn’t offend anyone, because I don’t actually know.  I have a secret, and I’m telling people about it.  It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable.

I am significantly fortunate to have the support of my family and friends and coworkers.  So many people dealing with health issues don’t have a support system.  I’m a lucky one.

So, where are things at?  I’ve had my intake phone conversation with an inpatient rehab facility in the area.  My info has been sent to the clinical department for evaluation, and I’m waiting to hear on their decision as to what the feel is appropriate for my situation.

Updates will follow when I have access.  My parting thoughts are if you are struggling with depression please have a conversation with your medical provider.  If you’re dealing with any addiction, seek help.

the retail life has got me down

I MUST start this post by stating clearly:

“clearing throat”

The posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of JoAnn Stores, LLC.

I literally wrote that down when I had to do an online in-service, because I knew it would come in to play at some point in time.

I will say I debated for a few weeks about stating what craft store I work at, because I know voicing my opinion about anything is going to create a backlash, and throwing the employer under the proverbial bus won’t likely win me any points.

My life so far: when it got to be the holiday buying season, I realized that I needed to increase my revenue if I was going to have any sort of life outside of living paycheck to paycheck.  I have too many bills to cover and not enough dollar wise smarts to do it with.  I thought about jobs I could do part time around my full time job, and since I spent regular time and money at JoAnn Fabrics, I applied there.  Minimum wage later, I started the day before Halloween 2014.

I will also freely say that without knowing it, I have been the customer which gets commented about after they leave the store.  I didn’t know any different, not having been told.  So, in a way, I see this as a sort of P.S.A. about the environment which does not prompt genuine customer appreciation.  Think what you will; I know I will think all sorts of things, good and bad, when this post is done.

The store closes at 9 p.m., but we are scheduled until 10 p.m.  Why is that, do you ask?  Being the customer checking out at 8:59 p.m. and thinking I get to go home the minute you leave?  The employees have to be there before and after closing to pick up the store-also known as recovery (put back purchased/returned/found items), set sales and put up/take down signage, reset the floor plan, and stock inventory which comes in.  Some days there is so much stuff out of place that after 90 minutes of multiple employees doing the bare minimum, the store still looks like someone set loose a fleet of toddlers without supervision.

You found a sale sign from a month ago, and can you still have the sale price?  In the interest of good customer service the answer is yes, but if you see the paragraph above, you may appreciate why things like that get overlooked.

The store I work for allows multiple coupons and accepts competitor coupons.  That doesn’t mean the store is open to give away inventory.  That wouldn’t make good business sense.  You will not get in line and get money back by simply making a purchase with coupons.  You can’t bring in a receipt for something you bought two months ago which now happens to be on sale, and expect to get a refund.  You won’t be handed coupons at the register.  The whole point of coupons are for advertising.  They are meant to bring you into the store, not to give you the deed.

Speaking of coupons, in the digital age, for the love of EVERYTHING which is good on this earth, have your coupons ready before you get to the register!  Often there’s only one cashier.  If it didn’t occur to you to look for a coupon or an app (I’ve had countless people ask me during a transaction if there’s an app for that) which may save you money, let someone else go ahead of you.  I’m not the Geek squad, and I can’t help you figure out your phone.  At best, I know how to use MY phone.  There was no course on how to teach someone how to download browsers or coupons or apps or search engines to their phone so I can type in a 32 digit long code because the scanner can’t read the coupon’s bar code on the customer’s phone.

I am not a seamstress, despite the fact that I can cut and sell you material.  It wouldn’t occur me to walk into Home Depot with a screen shot from Pinterest and expect someone to tell me how to make a grandfather clock, so please don’t come up to an employee and expect we will be able to tell you how to make whatever-it-is that you’ve found on the internet.  We sell the materials, not the product.  We can probably help interpret a pattern, but that’s not in the job description; it’s likely because the people working the store also craft.

If you don’t know what something is called, I can’t tell you if we carry it or if it’s orderable, unless perchance I have a co-worker who can figure out what you’re talking about and can give me specific information to research.  If you’ve bought it at at a JoAnn store before, save your receipt; it has an item number on it which I CAN look up to see if we have it in stock, will be getting more, or can special order it for you.  Again, vagueness is not our friend in this scenario.

The customer survey at the end of your undecipherable receipt?  Yes, we actually want you to go online and complete it.  If you name a particular person for doing their job over and above what’s expected, we do get recognized.  It’s with a scissor pin, but for those of us who don’t have a pin, we envy those who have one (or five) and we do strive to give you a great experience, even if you leave us scratching our collective heads.  If you don’t like something, there’s a good chance we don’t like it, either.  The tall signs which hide the registers?  We think they suck but we don’t have the power to take them down.  The price scanners which don’t work?  Yep, they piss us off but again, we don’t have the power to get them fixed.  The leaky roof which leads to garbage cans all over the store—ditto.  Same thing with the red paint footprint which has been on the floor since before I’ve worked at the store, because corporate won’t pay for it to be removed.

We know our paycheck is ultimately signed by the customer.  For those who don’t, they should.  That doesn’t mean we can meet unrealistic expectations.  At the end of the work day, we are much happier when a customer is appreciative of our efforts even if we weren’t able to help them than we would be for a begrudgingly satisfied customer.  Many of us work minimum wage to pay the minimum bills or (in my case) to cover expenses we can’t meet with our full time job (i.e. student loans).  We all love our job, but that doesn’t mean being human doesn’t frustrate us, as it often frustrates you as the customer.  I work with nurses, teachers, students, EMTs, moms and dads, parents working to pay for a child’s wedding, career people who have made this their life’s work. We want you to be happy, but you would help us by being realistic and meeting us somewhere in the middle.

2014: a brief recap

It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually posted.  I’ve typed several entries but haven’t put them out there for various reasons.  This is where I’m at.

I don’t regret holding Rich (my sig. other) hostage about his ‘edited for content’ episode over the summer.  I did what I needed to do, he ‘edited for content’ did the proper thing and he’s still here with me, we are still together after all these years.  He’s ‘edited for proper content, thank you federal government’ and I am VERY grateful for his existence.

My hair has grown back, status post St. Baldrick’s in March of 2014.  There have been a few grays, but I’m glad to have any hair regardless of the color so I don’t complain.  Out loud.  Where others can hear me.

I’m still reeling from unsuccessful fertility treatment in 2013.  It’s the worst failure I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’ve acquired a second job at Joann Fabrics.  My addiction has become a source of income.  And, New York State is raising the minimum wage to $8.75/hr next week (seriously?!?) so I get a raise.  It’s as much a social experiment as anything else.  There’s no way anyone can legitimately live off minimum wage.

I’ve gone through several medication adjustments for the bipolar diagnosis because of side effects and ineffectiveness of some of the medication.  I can heartily support very close contact with your medical provider and don’t give up.

I’ve had to stop knitting and crocheting because of bilateral wrist pain.  I’m very disheartened by this.  I’m having arthroscopic surgery on my left (dominant) wrist in February and likely scoping of my right when I’m recovered from the initial scope.  I’m disappointed this holiday season that I haven’t been able to craft as much as I wanted to because of my pain level.  I can either work or craft, and obviously work (very heavy typing) wins the day.

I have started sewing again, because of my 2nd job and my wrist issues.

Rich has a steady job on 2nd shift at UPS.  Some days we don’t see each other but I generally stay up until he gets home.  Have to keep the connections active.

My cat Pippin is having separation anxiety because Rich isn’t here as often.  I’m at a loss as to what to do.

I’ve admitted to myself that I live vicariously through some of my Facebook contacts and I’m okay with this, because I’m SO happy for their respective happiness!

Stone By Stone: Please check out this cause I am very passionate about.

I’ve left the church I was attending, and am currently adrift.  Working the 2nd job has contributed towards keeping me from searching for another church to go to.

I lost a very VERY dear kitty friend this year.  I was very fortunate to visit her on her last day, and am glad for the friendship and bond I had with her over the years.

I’m currently being nagged to go to bed because it’s after midnight and we are a wee bit short on staff at work, so I’m signing off.  More to come in 2015.

I want to talk about Brittany Maynard. Moreso, I want her discussion to lead to a discussion which goes viral.

Confessions of a Funeral Director: Let’s Talk About Brittany Maynard.

I haven’t posted in a few months, for mostly personal reasons.  Majority are health related, not applicable here.

I want to talk about Brittany Maynard.  Moreso, I want her discussion to lead to a discussion which goes viral.

My response to this article:

Death is a part of life. The Lion King is cliche but it’s a circle. We start with life, we become the earth, other organisms are sustained by this. Talking about death is not scary. What is terrifying is an individual and a family suddenly faced with a situation where decisions need to be made very quickly, sometimes before emotions can cool and reasonable discussion can take place. In the medical field, this unfortunate situation happens all the time, and I only work in family medicine, not the emergency room or other sudden trauma situation.

Have the discussion with your family. Think about what YOU want. And when you decide what YOU want, find those friends & family you KNOW will get your wishes done despite their own personal feelings, when/if/should you pass unexpectedly. Organ donoror no, or only some organs? Life support or no, or to what extent? Feeding tube or no, and to what extent? CPR or no?

I strongly encourage you to consult with both your family AND your medical provider, who can help ensure the proper/legal paperwork is in place to help make sure your wishes are carried out to the letter. I encourage anyone who doesn’t know what they want, want help having the discussion, have questions, etc. schedule an appointment with their provider specifically to discuss this topic.

Because whether or not we recognize it, just like taxes, we have NO choice but to deal with it. It’s either your predetermined wishes or those of family members consulted after death. There are NO wrong and NO right answers. The correct answer is the one which fits with YOUR wishes. This is one of the most important discussions EVERYONE regardless of age or health or sex should discuss with their medical provider, and if not their provider for whatever reason, their friends & family they want in place for when death happens, expected or sudden

Patients don’t always know that their wishes can be changed at ANY time, and for any reason. If yesterday you were ok with a ventilator and today you’re not, or vice versa, it can be changed in real time, and made legal. You don’t need a lawyer, and it doesn’t cost anything to complete a health care proxy and a living will in New York State. Your family medical provider (or hospital staff, if you are inpatient) are able to give you all the tools you need to create a legally binding document (which your lawyer should have, should you have one). I will not give opinions on any decisions, but I will GLADLY share my experience to help ANYONE become more aware of the discussion and the process.

As a medical professional,  I don’t care what your wishes are.  My concern is that they are known.  My larger concern is that your wishes are legally documented so there is no question should something happen.  Your feelings about your death are SO profound.  Nobody asked if you wanted to be born vaginal or via c-section, did they.

It’s time to greatly expand the conversation so it’s not so uncomfortable and awkward, and eliminate the stigma about the entire discussion.  Just because you’re thinking about how you want to be treated medically when you can’t speak for yourself does NOT mean you have a death wish.  It does NOT mean you expect to be stricken with a severe illness or a sudden fatal disease.  It does NOT mean you are worried about dying in a car accident.

What this ultimately does, is to get you thinking about how you want things to go, because you DO have options, regardless of the situation.  This talk, although it may be a bit awkward, opens a dialogue of communication.  And the sheer weight it removes from the shoulders of those who will be asked about your wishes when the time comes is absolutely worth the awkward discussion, be it three days or three years before the time they are being asked.

What a blessing it is to be able to make medical decisions for your loved one who can’t speak on their own behalf, yet still know what they would decide, if they were able.  Even if you disagree, you are still able to ensure their choice is being followed.  This allows you to continue to be a family member, and not the “one” who made all the decisions on “fill in the blank”s behalf.

As a medical professional, I cannot stress how important and vital and beneficial this discussion is to the health of any relationship, including people with children, kids just turning into adults and in charge of their health care decisions for the first time in their lives.  Hopefully this conversation will evolve over the years among the involved family/friend members, so it remains current.

My own personal experience, which I’ve been reluctant to share because I don’t want it to bias this post, is when my Gram was dying in 2011.  She had a living will and a trustworthy healthcare proxy.  Although as her family we may not have fully supported her decisions (I will not divulge details) we knew in advance what they were, and were able to ensure they were followed.  That was the greatest gift she gave us.  Well, that and her uncompromising stubbornness, but mostly her preemptive discussion about her death.