Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weird Wednesday: How I Became A Dallas Ambassador

There's a very good reason I never went into politics.  It's all because of this family curse.  See, generations ago, in Iceland, at a family reunion, one of my ancestors pissed off a local witch by refusing to coordinate the receiving crew for a rousing game of dodgerock.  She laid a curse on him and all of his descendants down to the seventh generation that went something like "May You Always Be In Charge."

Which is what happens.  It's very dangerous for me or other family members to join an organization because the odd are within six months we'll be President, or some other high ranking official.  Trust me on this. In one amazing year I watched my dad become President of the band parents association, the local flyers club, Kiwanis and the Society of Left-Handed Nordic Engineers Who Drive Tiny Trains.  (Okay, I made up that last one.  My dad isn't really left-handed.)  You'd think, being a woman, that I'd get out of this particular thing but guess what? Women ran the country back in 900s Iceland while the men took off and, you know, raided coastlines.

So I bought a condo; I got elected to the condo board as vice-pres. (I only escaped presidency because Joan threatened to divorce me.)  I joined OA; six months later I was running the Web site.  (As Seth Bullock of Deadwood: "I only said I'd be the building inspector because I didn't want to be the god-damned sheriff!") I got picked for jury duty; within minutes I was the foreperson.  (My name will be on that crummy verdict till the end of recorded time.)  I joined the church choir; suddenly I was in charge of altar flowers, chapel candles and something involving Sunday school.  Oh, wait, that's the other curse. The big-woman-with-large-breasts-and-a-clipboard syndrome that just sort of happens around churches. Beware, all ye well-endowed wenches who seek God. Whatever you do, do not let them hand you a clipboard. Not even if all they say is "Here, hold this for a sec."

Well. I've recently been placed in charge of something else.  This one is different, so pardon me if you have trouble taking me seriously.  I have been designated as a local ambassador for World Hijab Day on February 1, 2014.

What is World Hijab Day, you may ask, which is how I know you didn't click on the link. Geez, people, do you think I write HTML code to pass the time?  World Hijab Day is a day for non-hijabi Muslims and non-Muslim women who have never worn a hijab to try it out for one day.  See what it's like from the inside, as it were.  Why? Well, because especially in the Western world, there are all kinds of misconceptions about why women wear hijabs. A lot of people think that you only wear a hijab if your husband or father makes you. False: Most Muslim women decide for themselves how much to cover, often after talking about it with their husbands and sometimes religious leaders. You might also think a hijab is hot, uncomfortable and a symptom of women's oppression. False again. There are hijabs made of cotton and silk which are very cool and comfortable.  I'll admit I haven't worn a hijab outside for two hours in the middle of the Texas summer, but for the most part I don't even notice it's there. (And I'm never outside for that long in the middle of the Texas summer, but if I was, I'd point out that a hijab is pretty good sun protection.) And as for the women's oppression part, I don't believe that any woman should be telling any other woman what to wear. So if you're doing that, stop it.  Thank you.

So World Hijab Day is about promoting awareness, greater understanding and a peaceful world.  Which is pretty cool.  And--Oh. You don't even know what a hijab is.  (Uh, you could click on the link.)  Here is a pic of me wearing a hijab.  This is The Lavender One; I also picked up The Magenta One and The Grey One. (It was a good deal. Three for one.)  The Magenta One is my favorite but there are religious reasons not to wear a red or red-similar color in much of the Muslim world, so anyway, The Lavender One. I think I look kinda cute, or as cute as anybody looks in a selfie, anyway.  Joan looks very cute in hers, though it does have the unfortunate tendency to age-reverse her to about twelve.  (No pic of Joan. Sorry.  That is not happening in this lifetime.)

I'm waiting for somebody to point out that I'm not even Muslim.  (Thank you, guy in Ohio, for pointing that out.) True fact. I am, however, besotted with the Muslim world.  Pretty sure I've talked about this before, so I'll just say that in my opinion, Islamic women really know how to dress.  It's smart, it's practical and even if people are staring at you, you know they can't really see anything. And as someone who gets stared at -- a lot -- that's pretty nice. Someday I'll get up the nerve to post a pic of me in my Muslim swimsuit, which I bought for sun reasons.  If you want to imagine it, though, think of Jeannie's bottle draped in aqua with a hood.  Yeah, it really is that funny.  You can stop imagining it now.  Thank you.

So anyway, I found out about World Hijab Day and went to the web site and asked a question and suddenly I was the Dallas ambassador. This is just how these things happen to me. See above, re, family curse. I am now in charge of Coordinating An Event.  The first and only thing I thought of was inviting everyone to lunch at Afrah. Afrah was cool with it, so, making some phone calls and will pass around some flyers.  Saturday, February 1st at 1:00, Afrah Restaurant, 314 East Main Street, Richardson, Texas. Hopefully it will be warm and we can sit outside.

Somewhere, a 900-year-old Icelandic witch is laughing at me.  I just know it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Nabe Has Arrived.

My neighborhood is a nebulous region of Far East Dallas that kind of hovers between Northwest Highway and Plano Road on one end, Garland and Buckner on the other, and that place where the 635 Freeway curves around to go from north to east (or west to south, depending on which way you're going).  It's a 1950s enclave of small houses, cheap apartments, a couple of drugstores and a really good Mexican restaurant.  In recent years we've acquired a Starbucks on the Buckner end, which is a huge shout-out that gentrification is on the way.  But nothing says we've arrived like the sudden opening of--get this--a Pei Wei.

Yes, an actual Pei Wei.  That place of cheap Asian-appearing food assembled into weird combinations that sell for around eight bucks a plate.  There's no horses in front (that's P.F. Chang's, unfortunately - another demographic altogether) but it makes pretty good sauces.  I'm a fan of honey anything with pepper whatever's on special mixed with a bunch of vegetables and maybe some meat, if it's one of those days.  Not lettuce wraps, though.  Lettuce is a pointless food, unless you grow it in your garden to be fodder for aphids.

There's also a great Chinese place right across the street.  I'm actually a little worried about it, seeing as it's going to get a lot of competition from the Pei Wei.  Maybe this will be their incentive to dress up their menu and have outstanding specials.  Or maybe they'll just move.  I hope they don't move; I'm a big fan of their salt and pepper shrimp. And I've been known to sneak a Napoleon when Joan's not looking.  (Chinese restaurant. Napoleon. Haven't figured that out yet.)

So my post-1950s place of residence is being slowly dragged into the 20th century.  If there's a Pei Wei, can an On the Border be far behind?

Speaking of being dragged kicking and screaming out of the 1950s, a judge in Oklahoma (you've heard of Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain? And the waving wheat, it sure smells sweet--Wait a minute. I hate musicals) just decided that the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage violates somebody's equal-protection rights.  Oklahoma. Oklafrick'nHoma.  I mean we tell Oklahoma jokes in Texas.  Oklahoma's where all the people who are too conservative even for Texas gather in secret to plot and scheme and raise an invading army.  It's the buckle of the Bible Belt, where you might get shot for driving a car made in Germany or Sweden instead of the good old U.S. of A. I have a good friend in Oklahoma (in Jinks, right outside Tulsa) and you can see Oral Roberts University from his house, practically.  It's easy to tell Oral Roberts University because there are these two praying hands that are like 40 feet high at the entrance.  It's not just a sculpture, it's an Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here. And this is typical, okay?  The last time I checked, you were in danger of Divine Wrath if you so much as drove through Durant without stopping at the casino (giant tornado descends from the sky, picks up your car, shakes you like a rattle and drops you deep in Sooner territory near OKC).  Unless you live in Tulsa. In Tulsa you are safe from Divine Wrath. Not because of Oral Roberts University but because legend has it there's a sleeping goddess buried near downtown, and there's never been a tornado there because nobody wants to piss her off.

Anyway, who knows if this'll stand, but Oklahoma thinks there should be same-sex marriage.  So does Utah, in which lots of same-sex couples got married before the Supremes put a kibosh on the whole thing long enough to let the courts hear it out.  Now, Utah makes sense.  Utah is the marriage capital of the world. (Sorry, Las Vegas, but you're only the wedding capital of the world. For actual marriage, you gotta go to Utah).  I didn't go to Brigham Young University, but a lot of people I know did, and when returned missionaries started school there they were told (at least at that time) to get engaged within six months.  Girls get proposed to every time you turn around at BYU.  And people stay married for long periods of time, have a plethora of children, and it's the whole family values thing taken to the extreme.  So why not encourage marriage among those who traditionally haven't been able to tie the knot?  It's the only way to get more marriages than are already happening.  It makes sense.  Even the Mormon Church, which used to be about as anti-same-sex marriage as you could get (see, i.e., Proposition 8, California), has softened its stance recently.  Maybe because it became aware that it was going after its own family members, and family is huge in Mormonism. In fact, family is everything.

And now Oklahoma, adding to the midwestern states (Iowa, possibly Illinois).  Can Mississippi and Louisiana be far behind? (Louisiana. Home of New Orleans.  Hmm, if I were a gambling kinda gal my money'd be on Louisiana.)

Meanwhile, in Texas...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Can't See The Giant Soul-Sucking Club-Wielding Trolls in the Forest for the Trees

There's some stuff I've been wanting to get off my chest for months, so let's just start there:

1. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that freedom of speech and of the press shall not be abridged.  That means you have the right to an opinion.
2.  You also have the right to speak that opinion, or express or publish it in any way that's open to you.
3.  You do not have the right to be free from any and all criticism once you express that opinion.
4.  Because, shocking as it may seem, all other people also have the equal right to an opinion.  
5.  You do not have any absolute right to be paid for speaking that opinion.  
6.  Further, if you are being paid for speaking that opinion, you can be fired at any time.  There's nothing in the Constitution that says anybody paying you for speaking that opinion cannot at some point decide to fire you.
7.  Ferexample, if you're getting paid to advise your clients on, say, their investment portfolios, and you suddenly decide to opine on the ugliness of your client's tie and the degree to which he was an idiot for voting for McCain, your boss would have every right to fire you.  
8.  So if your opinion, and your manner of choosing to speak it, ends up costing your employer a lot more money than it would have cost him/her if you'd just kept your big yap shut, you should really not be surprised at all if you get fired.  
9.  And that goes for everyone around you.

Okay? Okay.  Let's move on: 

The rumors are true, everybody.  Various press factions are actually agreeing about this.  After spending ten months locked in a psychiatric ward because her parents and the state of Massachusetts disagreed about what was best for her, fifteen-year-old Justina Pelletier is finally getting out.  Well, not OUT out.  She's not going HOME home. But she's leaving the psychiatric ward and going back to Tufts University Hospital, where this whole sordid saga started out. She's going to a "step-down" unit because she's still "medically fragile."  She's still in state custody, and her parents still want her back (naturally).  But that can happen later. She's leaving the psych ward. She might even able to (gasp!) go outside.  And maybe, instead of being restricted to a 20-minute phone call once a week and a one-hour supervised visit, she can actually start seeing some of her friends and family members.  

At some point, the ongoing argument between her parents and the Tufts doctors vs. the doctors at Boston Childrens' Hospital  needs to be resolved.Interesting, though, that the Judge decided to send her back to Tufts.  That sounds like a vote.

Now, this case hasn't been reported extensively in the media. (And why not? Fifteen-year-old sick girl? Incarcerated with crazy people when there's no evidence she's homicidal or suicidal? For ten MONTHS?  Hello? Anderson Cooper?  You need to start reading my emails.) Well, actually there's a gag order, which means we don't have a fresh set of facts every time there's a court hearing. Media needs sound bites, so that's a problem.  It's also problematical that this whole thing has become a big debate about parental rights -- that is, your right to choose who cares for your sick child and under what circumstances.  Methinks that focus is entirely off.  

In a nutshell, Justina is a sick little kid. I won't elaborate because it's out there if you want to find it but myself, personally, feel a little weird about reporting the medical symptoms of someone I've never met, much less a minor.  I feel weird enough using her name, though it's been around the media for a while. (I can see it now; ten years in the future, Justina graduates from college, goes on her first job interview and the interviewer says, "Oh yeah. You were the kid who spent ten months in the psych ward.")  She had one diagnosis from the Tufts doctors, who had prescribed medication and on which she was doing pretty well.  She was even a competitive ice skater back before all this began. Then one night she came down with unrelated pneumonia and her parents took her to Boston Childrens' on the advice of the pediatrician.  Within a few days, the doctors at Childrens' decided this was a child abuse case, called in the Department of Family Services and took custody of Justina under an emergency court order.  The hospital told Justina's parents that her illness was all in her head, in a manner of speaking, and sent her to the psych ward without letting her parents seek a second opinion.  And there the matter rested, while Mom and Dad and the State fought about it in court.  

For ten months.  Ten MONTHS. Truly, I'm ill.  Look, people, both the WHO (Principles 4 through 8) and the AACAP have guidelines about who needs to be in a locked psychiatric ward. Both of them talk about this thing called the "least restrictive environment."  And both of them pretty much agree that kids don't need to be locked up in any way, shape or form unless they're homicidal or suicidal, and some lesser variations on the theme. Justina's in a wheelchair.  She can't walk by herself.  She's not very likely to kill anybody.  I don't know if she's suicidal (I would have been), but even if she was, why did it take ten MONTHS to stabilize her? That's pretty sucky medical care.  Most patients take a few days, a few weeks at most. And then if she still needed to be in the hospital, they could have sent her back downstairs to the pediatric ward. 

But that's what tends to happen, when two opposing forces get into a pissing match about who's right.  In the meantime, the thing they're fighting about tends to get totally overlooked.  That thing, in this case, was Justina. Everybody just kind of forgot that she had any civil rights at all, including the right to personal liberty.  Justina had a court-appointed guardian (which is typical in cases like this), and not even the guardian thought to bring up to the Judge that Justina hadn't done anything wrong.  That maybe being behind bars was not in her best interest.  It took a civilian complaint from a psychiatric nurse, made as part of the mandatory reporter rule (if you're a health care provider, and you suspect a child is being abused, you have to make a report--yes, that's what started all this, but this time it worked in Justina's favor) to get that issue even looked at.  And I'm still not sure it's really been looked at.  Justina wasn't at her own hearing.  Why is that? She's fifteen, not six.  She probably has an opinion. Even if it isn't followed, it should be heard.  

  Like most people, I think I'm right about certain things.  In fact, there are some things where I'm so sure I'm right that if you think otherwise, I'm likely to dismiss you out of hand.  If you don't know what those things are, you probably haven't been reading this blog very long.  But I try to be very careful about this whole concept of absolute rightness.  You may be an elephant-hugging Republican while I'm a kiss-my-ass Democrat (85% liberal, according to this survey from Time Magazine)  but we can still probably talk about some things and who knows, I might even learn something from you.  

But if we can't be respectful of each other and remember that we both have the right to an opinion, we might start arguing about who's right, and bring reams of statistics and telling personal anecdotes to illustrate the points.  By the time we're that far, all we're going to do is drive each other crazy.  Sort of the pounding of the unstoppable forces on the immovable objects.  And we'll each leave thinking the other is nuts or mean or stupid, which isn't true (no, it's never true), which both demeans the other person and drags us down (because we become the kind of person who would write off another human being because he or she disagrees with us, and who wants to be that kind of person?) 

So anyway, the next time somebody's driving you crazy in a long ridiculous argument that doesn't seem to have any frickin' point, maybe you can catch yourself and say, "Why am I so gung-ho to prove I'm right, here?" And maybe, once you do that, you'll realize that nobody's right, anyway.  Everything changes all the time.  What you're right about now, you may realize tomorrow is completely wrong.  Meanwhile you've expended all that time and energy, made yourself angry, made the other person angry and in the middle of it all, you've lost all sight of the basic point.

Which, I think, is what happened to Justina.  I doubt she gave a shit which doctors were right as long as she could see the sunlight and be with her family.  I hope she has calmer days, blue skies and no locked doors ahead. 

Friday, January 10, 2014


Details to follow, but the West Hartford Courant is reporting that Justina Pelletier, a non-crazy person, is being transferred from the locked psychiatric ward at Boston Childrens Hospital to Tufts Medical Center.  If true, this is HUGE.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mini-Post: And The ACLU Said...

Thank you for contacting the ACLU of Massachusetts about the Children’s Hospital problem. We want you to know we are concerned about the situation and are looking into whether we can get involved on some of the issues. That is all we can tell you right now, but we appreciate your concerns.

ACLU of Massachusetts

Well. That's great, guys. Do drop me a line when you can be bothered to send something that wasn't written by a machine.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Walking Dead, or, How Not To Be The Next Corpse Hooked To A Machine

(Alert: This post is kind of gross.  You might want to skip it if you don't want to know anything about human decomposition or how certain organs work.  Those who elect to get over it, read on:)

It's been a good year for zombies.  In case y'all aren't fans of The Walking Dead, the brilliant show on A&E, here's a quick primer.  Somewhere in Georgia, where we lay our tale, a rapidly-spreading virus turned most men, women and sometimes children into ravenous flesh-eating brain-dead zombies. (You know, like Ted Cruz.) We don't know what's happened to the rest of the world because there hasn't been any communication, but this part of the U.S. is a postapocalyptic nightmare.  Our group of civilians, who are either immune to the virus or have had the good luck not to catch it, attempts to survive around zombie attacks, natural disasters, political infighting and occasional conflicts with other groups of civilians.  It's not pleasant watching but it's very real.  You get the feeling that this is how people would probably really act in this situation, and that you, yourself, might not do any better.  Warning, lots of people die in this show.  Don't get too attached to any particular character.  The producers aren't shy about killing off lead characters, either, providing numerous shocking moments.  (Spoiler alert!) When twelve-year-old Sophie, who had been missing for most of Season 2, suddenly reappeared as a zombie, I about jumped into Joan's lap.

Zombie children are not restricted to TV this year, though.  In Oakland, California, a 13-year-old girl named Jahi McMath died on December 12 after surgery on her tonsils and adenoids.  We don't yet know what went wrong, though something clearly did because although she awoke from the anesthetic, she began to bleed heavily and went into full cardiac arrest. The docs got her heart beating again, but her brain died.  Brain death, by the way, means that there is no electrical activity in the brain and no blood circulating from the rest of the body to the brain.  If you meet those two criteria, you're deceased.  Oh, they can hook you to a ventilator, which might keep you breathing and your heart beating for a little while, but as soon as you disconnect the ventilator, the heart stops for lack of oxygen.  There's no brain stem (it's dead, remember?) to remind the heart to keep going.  

Before we get any further into this, let me just clarify that brain death is not a Terri Schiavo situation. The unfortunate Ms. Schiavo did not have a dead brain.  Instead, she spent fifteen years in what was suspected to be a "persistent vegetative state," which means a person has some unknown level of awareness but is not "awake" or "conscious" in any real sense. After she died, her autopsy indicated that she was probably not conscious at all, owing to the massive brain damage on the parts of her brain that controlled consciousness.  She was also blind, which is only interesting if you saw that video that was repeated on TV over and over again (viral video wasn't a "thing" yet) which allegedly "proved" that she was watching a balloon drift across her room.  (Ie, couldn't possibly have been watching the balloon because was blind, and yes, I do have to spell it out like that.)  

The difference between brain death and a persistent vegetative state is huge and unmistakable.  People in a persistent vegetative state are alive. Many of them can survive without a ventilator and some even regain some ability to communicate, though they remain severely disabled. Brain death is death.  No one "comes back from it."  In fact, without a blood supply, the brain begins to decompose and leak out of your ears (like your mother said would happen if you watched too many episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians). Other organs quickly follow and eventually, the whole body. The only reason brain dead persons are not considered "truly dead" by some people is that the heart will keep beating for quite a while, as long as it has an oxygen supply.  Of course, it will eventually fail because the other organs are dying (kidneys, for example, last less than a week) but one can be dead and hooked up to a machine that makes it appear that one is alive for weeks, maybe even a couple of months.  

Jahi McMath's story has become somewhat of a spectacle, as her parents are trying to move her to a nursing home on the belief that she might suddenly wake up.  This will not happen, as I'm sure most of us know.  Jahi is dead, and soon she will start to decompose.  No legitimate skilled nursing facility would take a brain-dead patient because the patient is, you know, dead. Which makes me seriously concerned about these nursing homes that the parents claim to have found.  I suspect that these "homes" are much more interested in keeping Jahi's body going for a while so they can get chunk of dough from the eventual lawsuit--which is something else a legitimate nursing facility would not do. As lots of persons who have had to negotiate the nursing-home maze on their own behalf or for a loved one are painfully aware, legitimate nursing facilities want to be paid up front, on time, and often.
Meanwhile, here in Texas, we have our very own zombie.  Marlise Munoz, who died on or around November 26, 2013, is still breathing thanks to a ventilator and the state of Texas.  Ms. Munoz was a paramedic, and one can assume that when she said, "I don't want to be hooked up to machines if anything bad happens," she meant it.  Oh, did I mention she's pregnant? See, there's the rub. In Texas and some other states, it is illegal to disconnect life support from a pregnant woman.  The fetus that Texas is so worried about suffered the same loss of oxygen that Marlise did when she died, and it may well also be dead, though it still had a heartbeat last time anybody checked.  Marlise was only 12 weeks along when she collapsed from a pulmonary embolism.  If she was, say, 32 weeks, the fetus might have a decent shot at survival (if it's not brain-dead itself, which is likely), but this early in the pregnancy, the fetus's survival odds are pretty close to zero.  Legally, though, the hospital has no choice but to keep this dead woman alive as long as possible and hope for a miracle. I don't believe in miracles.  Sure, they happen once in a while, but there's usually never one around when you really need it, fickle bastards that they are.

The Jahi McMath story is a tragic soap opera, and I feel sorry for everybody involved, but the outcome is preordained and won't take long to come about.  Ms. Munoz's case, though, is seriously irritating. There are options here.  This could end.  The husband, who has stayed out of the media glare for the most part except to say he doesn't want to be involved in a legal battle, could transfer Ms. Munoz to another hospital in another state and disconnect her life support there. He could also go to Federal court and obtain an order to have the life support disconnected, because the Texas law is unconstitutional on its face. But he won't, or at least he hasn't.  I think on some level he might be hoping against hope that the fetus will make it.  I can understand that.  It's his wife, for God's sake, and his hoped-for child.  But if it were my wife, I'd be doing everything possible to honor her wishes--up to and including taking a gun to the hospital, ordering everybody out of the room and turning the life support off my damnself.  Let a jury decide what it thinks about that.

(I am not a licensed attorney in any state, but I'm thinking it will be hard to convict someone of murder if the allegedly murdered person was already dead.  I read a sci-fi novel about something like that once. It turned out the ex-wife did it.  But anyway:)

Here's the important question, though.  How can you, a living, breathing person reading this blog post, keep from becoming the next corpse hooked to a machine?  Better still, how can you stop something like this from happening to a loved one?  

(Once again, I am not a licensed attorney in any state, and nothing that follows should be construed as any kind of legal advice. Yes, I hate disclaimers too, but I live in Texas, people.  Texas don't like it when you act like a lawyer when you're not one.)  

Well, first off, GET A LIVING WILL AND A MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY, or, as it's called in some states, an Advance Directive.  This is easy to do and you don't need a lawyer.  Every state allows persons over the age of 18 (and sometimes younger persons) to refuse medical tyranny, er, medical treatment.  (You'd never know it from some of the stories I hear, but that's a whole nother blog post.)  Most states have preprinted forms (here's a set for Texas) that you can find by Googling "living will form" or "advance directive form" and the name of your state.  However, you don't have to use the state form; you can also write your own.  Hospitals generally have them available in the admissions office.  You might want to talk to your doctor, who might have a form of her or his own and will probably also have answers to any questions you might have.  In addition to a living will, you need to designate someone, called a medical power of attorney, to make decisions for you if you can't. You can be incredibly specific in your advance directive (mine, for example, covers kidney dialysis, burns over a certain percentage of my body and medically-induced comas) but things happen and sometimes the situation needs to be assessed by someone with a brain. A living brain.  

Second, if you know or live with someone that is terminally ill or might become so in the near future, HAVE THAT CONVERSATION NOW.  Let the person tell you what he or she wants done and when.  Write it down, if you can, so there's a record.  In fact, have this conversation with all of your loved ones, or at least the ones for which you might be called to make decisions.  

Thirdly, don't get pregnant in Texas.  Well, that's good advice for anybody.  Myself, personally, crossed out the supposedly legally required language (I later found out the language doesn't have to be on the form to make it valid) that stated life support cannot be withdrawn from a pregnant person.  I instead wrote in the case citations to Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973), Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health 497 U.S. 621 and Cruzan v Mouton CV 384-9P (Mo. Cir. Ct. December 14, 1990) and added that I instructed my medical power of attorney to immediately begin litigation if the medical facility refused to terminate life support, regardless of the reason. No, I don't fuck around with this stuff.  Why?  Because what if you can't leave?  What if you're dead, you've even moved out of your body because it's started to smell, but because your heart is still technically beating you can't go on to the next life or the next plane of existence? What if you're stuck there? For years, maybe decades?  Who knows how fast time moves after you're dead?  What if the health care facility you're stuck in doesn't even have a decent library?  

Fourthly, and this is going to sound very strange, DON'T CALL 911.  Again, if you know or live with someone who is terminally ill, and you know what that person wants done, you don't want to call the paramedics to haul them off to the hospital if something happens (unless, of course, they've told you they want to go to the hospital).  We're trained from childhood to call 911 in case of an emergency, but a terminally ill person dying is not an emergency.  It's what's supposed to happen.  And you can't expect paramedics to stop and read a legal document that tells them what they can or can't do.  That's not their job.  They exist to take the afflicted person to get medical treatment.  It can be days, even weeks after you call 911 before you regain control of the situation, if you ever do. 

If you're taking care of someone who's in imminent danger of dying, and that person collapses, stops breathing, or if God forbid you walk into the house one day and find the person already dead, what you want to do is call the person's doctor.  Tell the doctor who you are (presumably she or he already knows you, but you might be just a tiny bit stressed by the circumstances and not sound like yourself) and that you just arrived home and found Person X dead, or whatever else happened.  The doctor will probably take a few minutes to calm you down and then give you some instructions.  As long as they're in line with what you know Person X wants, do whatever the doctor says.  Then the doctor, not you, will contact the police and inform them that Person X has died.  Stay there until the police come and then let them take over.  If they feel at that point that a call to 911 is in order, it probably is.  

In case you're wondering, there's no hard and fast Buddhist doctrine about end of life decisions.  Buddhists tend to be pro-life, but that means pro-all life, including ants and bugs and paramecia and even germs.  However, there are several instances of prominent Buddhists, who were sick, old or otherwise didn't want to hang around anymore, committing suicide (three times with full knowledge and approval of the Buddha himself; here's a citation that means nothing to me, but will point the scholarly among you to where in the Dhammapada these stories can be found: S.v.344 (Diighaavu); S.iv.55, M.iii.263 (Channa); S.iii.119 (Vakkali); S.iii.124 (Assajji); M.iii.258, S.v.380 (Anaathapi.n.dika). Also, I came across an article that discusses these contradictions and makes some suggestions as to how Buddhists should approach end of life decisions.

But really, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming zombies is talk to them.  Make sure you know what they want.  Make sure they know what you want.  And stay the heck out of Texas while pregnant, unless you're in your third trimester.