The gift that provided clarity during chaos

April 16 is national Advance Care Planning Day

Submitted by Donna Gustavson

Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley

Russ is 58, fit and healthy, an avid skier and road cyclist.

He’s halfway through his morning ride when he’s struck by a passing motorist – boom. He’s immediately comatose and unresponsive.

He’s rushed to Emergency. Tests show he has excessive bleeding in the brain. He’s intubated to help him breathe.

And that’s when Karen, his wife, starts getting the unexpected, life-changing calls.

Tests, scans, and more tests follow. And when all the medical information is compiled and shared with the family, Karen knows there is no hope.

Advance Care Plan made

But Karen already had an incredible gift of love from her husband of nearly 33 years – a gift that enabled her to make a decision on his behalf without conflict or guilt: He had expressed his wishes to family and friends should something medically catastrophic happen. He had an advance care plan.

“He said, if anything catastrophic happens to me, don’t keep me alive; don’t leave me in the hospital. Keep me in the mountains, and by the lake,” recalls Karen. “He made this very clear to us. We all knew that Russ wouldn’t want to be in this condition.”

“It was an incredible gift to me that I didn’t have to second guess what he wanted, or if I would be doing the right thing,” she reflects. “In the chaos, the trauma, the overwhelming emotional turmoil, it created clarity when our lives were turned inside out.”

“It is not easy, but it is vital to have these important conversations with family, loved ones and health-care providers about what your wishes would be. And then, ask yourself — who needs to know? Give your family the gift of a decision already made,” suggests Maria Kliavkoff, Executive Director of the Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley. This process is known as Advance Care Planning.

It’s an ongoing process, a conversation that may change over time….

If you recognize the need and are unsure where to start please register at 778.526.5143 and join us at one of the following locations: Fairmont – April 16 @ 2pm, Invermere April 17 @ 1:30pm, Edgewater April 18 1:30pm, Brisco April 19 @ 7pm or Canal Flats April 20 @ 7pm.

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