Friday, March 12, 2010

MS-NBC's Olbermann on "Life Panels" & Living Wills

The Thursday evening, March 11, 2010, broadcast of Countdown with Keith Olbermann featured an update on his six months' long experiences with his ailing father and his plea for viewers to fill out an advance care directive, also known as a "living will," in his commentary, Life Panels Invaluable for Americans.

In his commentary the previous night, Keith described the medical procedures endured by his stoic father, who nevertheless reacted later:


He is mouthing the word "help," over and over and over again. And I get his attention.

He is in full panic. Maybe the x-ray tech hurt my Dad's back, or touched those new chest drains — more likely he did nothing very much at all. But it was just too much for my father.

"Stop this," he mouths. "Stop, stop, stop."

And I say to him: I know for a fact they are not doing anything more to you tonight.

And he looks at me and starts thrashing his head again: "Help, help, help." * * *
Keith is his father's health care agent, and so he asks his father what he should do:
I get his attention again. I ask him: do you want me to stop all of this?

And he looks at me and mouths "yes."

And I ask him: you understand what happens then.

And he looks at me and mouths "yes."

And I ask him: you realize you are not terminally ill, and if we do stop all of this, it might not be quick.

And he mouths "stop this." * * *
But Keith is clear-headed and also aware of his father's wishes; and he advocates for his father to receive pain medication instead:
* * * I said, look, I'm his health proxy, we've had conversations about end-of-life care — we've had them in here, we've had them when he was home and well, I'm not operating in the dark here.

I said I think he really wants the one word he keeps mouthing: He wants help.

Is there any medical reason not to give him some sedation, a little mental vacation from being a patient? * * *

On Thursday evening's broadcast, Keith was talking instead about "Living Wills" as he pleaded with views to communicate their wishes about medical care in advance and sign a completed advance health care directive that also would name an agent to carry out those wishes.

Update: 03/13/10:

Sadly, on Saturday, March 13th, Keith posted on his baseball blog an obituary about his beloved father, entitled
Theodore C. Olbermann, 1929-2010.

He did not mention how, or whether, his father's advance care directive was used, but his advocacy of it still shows its value.