Saturday, April 02, 2005

My Living Will

Note: Inspired by the Terri Schiavo situation, I rewrote the basic template for a living will from one that was emailed to me by a reader, R (thanks!). This was then nominated for a 2005 Koufax Award for "Most Humorous Individual Post".

Date: 2 April 2005

Living Will of GrrlScientist, (also known as Hedwig the Owl in some parts of the blogosphere), [address elided], NY, NY, 10024.

I, GrrlScientist (also known as Hedwig the Owl), being of sound mind and body, unequivocally and publically declare that in the event of a catastrophic injury or terminal illness, I do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. I hereby instruct my friends and loved ones to remove all life support systems once it has been determined that my brain is no longer functioning in a cognizant manner and there is no hope of me living again as a fully conscious human being. However, that judgment should be made only after thorough consultation with medical experts; i.e., individuals who actually have been trained, certified and have worked as medical doctors.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of peckerheaded politicians who couldn’t pass ninth grade biology if their lives depended on it. Furthermore, it is my hope that, when the time comes, any discussions about terminating my medical treatment should remain private and confidential.

However, I am acutely aware that the legislative and executive branches of federal and state governments have become fond of meddling in family matters in this country, with little concern for the privacy and dignity of individuals. Therefore, I wish to make my views on this subject as clear and unambiguous as possible. Recognizing that some politicians are cerebrally challenged themselves (but with no medical excuse for it), I’ll try to keep this simple and to the point:

1. While remaining sensitive to the feelings of my friends and loved ones who might cling to hope for my recovery, let me state that if a reasonable amount of time passes, say, 6 (six) months, and I fail to sit up and ask for a cold microbrew beer and a steaming plate of nachos with extra cheese and sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos and hot salsa, it should be presumed that I won’t ever get better. When such a determination is reached by 5 qualified medical doctors who have thoroughly examined me for several days and on more than one occasion (and not by some erstwhile doctor-politician watching me on a video while eating popcorn and sitting in his snuggly chair in Washington, DC), I do hereby instruct my spouse or lover (if I should ever find one), friends and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

2. Under no circumstances shall the members of the White House, or federal or state legislatures enact a special law to keep me on life support equipment. It is my expressed wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business by actually doing something to improve the health, education and welfare of Americans who aren’t yet in a persistent vegetative state.

3. Under no circumstances shall the governor of Florida butt in to this case and order my doctors to put a feeding tube down my throat, even if it is used to pour beer and liquified nachos into my stomach every day. I don’t care how many fundamentalist votes he’s trying to scrounge for himself, his brother or his cronies for 2006 and 2008, it is my wish that he plays politics with someone else’s life and leaves me to die in peace.

4. I don’t care if a hundred thousand religious zealots send snailmails and emails to legislators, pretending to care about me. I don’t know these people and I certainly haven’t authorized them to preach or crusade on my behalf. I am minding my own business and they should mind their own.

5. It is my heartfelt wish to expire quietly and in the presence of my friends and lover/spouse (again, if I should ever find one), without becoming a public spectacle. This is obviously impossible once elected officials become involved. So, while recognizing the wrenching emotions that attend the prolonged death of a loved one, I hereby instruct my friends and loved ones to settle all disagreements about my care in private or in the courts, as provided by law. If any of my friends or loved ones goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence into a living hell on earth filled with perpetual, unrelenting unemployment, punctuated with the occasional shit job to keep the rent paid (barely).

Signed: GrrlScientist (otherwise known as Hedwig the Owl)

Witness 1 ______ (insert name and address)

Witness 2 ______ (insert name and address)



© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

17 Peer Reviews:

Anonymous psilo said...

Amen. I can't believe what a bloody fiasco and policitcal wank job this has all become. I need to send a similar declaration to my friends and family.

Just another scientist rooting for you.


6:42 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

Love it!!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous David Holland said...

That's beautiful. For myself I don't want a living will. There are too many unpredictable variable. Everything from my wife's emotional state at the time (maybe she just can't give me up or can't handle the responsibility any more) to who is running the government (is the government's motto "All for one and one for all." or is it "Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.") Then there are border line conditions. I trust my wife to deal with whatever comes up with my best interest in mind and I hope to God the government stay's out of it.

Dave H

9:07 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Thanks for reading Psilo and Tabor (and for rooting for me, Psilo).

The main point of this living will, David, along with the written release to allow a loved one to die, guilt-free, is the mandate for the government to stay the hell out of matters such as this. The next thing you know, we'll have to pay a death tax before our barely-breathing carcasses are unhooked from life support machines.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I came here to post a link for you about "birds in the news" but this is such a great post, it deserved one more round of applause.

Although this is a serious article about kakapo breeding problems, I thought it also gets bonus points for containing the awesome line "If they were humans, they'd probably have six fingers and be playing a guitar."


10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also meant to add - wouldn't it be great if everybody, not just the kakapo, had a whole government department whose function is basically figuring out ways to get them more sex? :)


10:14 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Thanks for the link, WW32, I loved it! And uh, government-sanctioned sex? That'll be a cold day in hell.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Pinky said...


And I fully believe that the phrase "peckerhead" just doesn't get enough use!

5:37 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

I think that "peckerhead" has such a nice ring to it, Pinky. It is fun to say aloud and to read. I am glad you like it, too!

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why waste six months?


12:58 AM  
Blogger Angel, librarian and educator said...

I just loved this. I am making a copy for myself to modify for my use. I definitely agree with the "peckerhead" wording. Last thing I would want is some dumbass legislator that probably barely passed said biology course to be deciding my fate. And while in an ideal world, I would rather trust my significant other, it is clear from the recent events in Florida, that you have to have it in writing. At any rate, rooting for you as well and wish you best.

11:55 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Thanks, Gypsy Librarian for your kind words, I really appreciate it.


9:05 PM  
Blogger j said...

Preach on sister friend :0)! The use of the word wank and peckerhead are dear to my cold canadian heart. By the way, most living wills aren't worth the powder to blow them to hell. Most of the nurses I know would have the words do not rescussitate tattooed on their chest if the phrase wasn't so long.
Cheers J

9:29 PM  
Blogger Dr Zanky said...

Great Living Will. Hope you don't mind but I'm going to still your template and copy it as it. I will email it to some of my college and to the New England Journal of Medicine. It represent exactly how the whole medical comunity feel.

1:29 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Hi J, I am glad to see that you approve of my word choice in my living will.

Dr. Zanky, feel free to share, I am most pleased to think that the NEJM editorial staff will get a smile from my living will, too!


12:31 PM  
Anonymous bowlane said...

I was greatly taken by your living will and much prefer it to my own.
For what really happens when it is time, take a look at,8150,1376998,00.html

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend sent me "My Living Will" and I just want to add my kudos!! Well said! I too am adding it to my Health Care Proxy (Massachusetts does not recognize Living Wills yet). Thank you.

4:45 PM  

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