You can learn a lot when people think you aren’t listening…
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had insomnia. I’ve always been a night owl and a morning person, surviving on five, maybe six, hours of sleep cobbled together in restless bouts. In hindsight, I realize all my life I sort of resented having to sleep. I suppose I was afraid on some subconscious level I’d miss something important or exciting or unrepeatable. Which makes my current predicament all the more ironic.
I am in a deep vegetative state…better known as a coma.
Other people refer to my situation as “sad,” “heartbreaking”...even “tragic.” I find all the attention rather strange considering before I landed in Bed 3 in the long-term care ward of Brady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, I was the girl no one paid much attention to. I was the middle child—middling pretty, middling smart, a middling achiever with a middling personality in a middling job at a middling company. My name is Marigold Kemp, but these days I’m more commonly referred to as Coma Girl. Apparently, I have a bit of a following. I’ve trended on social media. I have my own hashtag.
Since it appears I’m going to be here for a while, I thought I might as well start telling my story; there have been a few twists and turns as to how I got here, and doubtless more to come. The list of pluses of being in a coma is pretty darn short, but if I had to name the best thing, it’s that you can learn a lot when people think you aren’t listening. I am the ultimate eavesdropper, and friend, if I ever wake up, I’m going to write a tell-all.
Meanwhile, I’ll tell you.
The COMA GIRL daily serial ran July 1 - December 31. A big thank you to everyone who came along for the ride! And even though the serial has ended, all 6 COMA GIRL novellas are available to binge read!
A COMA GIRL recommended New Year’s Resolution: “I WILL make a living will!”
Since writing the COMA GIRL series, I’ve heard from readers who’ve said reading about Marigold has made them shudder over the possibility of not being able to communicate their wishes regarding their own healthcare. So I posed a few questions about planning ahead for a health crisis to Atlanta attorney Jessi L. Patton, of Patton Law, LLC, who specializes in advising technical firms and entrepreneurs on business law and estate planning. For the next week, Jessi will answer questions YOU might be asking yourself, including: “What happens if *I* wind up in a coma?”
Q&A with Jessi L. Patton of Patton Law, LLC about the importance of a living will
Concluding our week-long interview with an estate attorney regarding the legal healthcare questions raised in the story of COMA GIRL, in which a woman lies in a hospital, the victim of friends and family who think she can’t hear them… but she SO can.
SB: What should a person do if they’re concerned about what will happen to them if they’re in a situation similar to our beloved heroine, Marigold?
JP: It’s important to know that an advance healthcare directive includes two important components:
- Designating a healthcare agent, which we know identifies the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself; and
- A “living will” which documents what medical treatments youwould or would not want at the end of your life.
You should complete an advance healthcare directive as well as a financial power of attorney designation because your loved ones may also need access to your bank accounts to keep your bills and rent up to date if you were unable to do so. Be sure to name more than one healthcare agent and power of attorney in case your first choice is unavailable.
Make several copies of the completed documents and give them to each of your agents and power of attorneys. Make sure your healthcare providers have copies of your advance healthcare directive as well. Your local hospital might be willing to file your advance healthcare directive in case you are admitted in the future. Keep the original documents in a safe but easily accessible place (i.e., not a safe deposit box), and tell others where you put them.
Last but not least, the most important step is to speak with anyone who might be involved in your healthcare decision-making. You want to make sure they understand how you feel about medical treatment if you were in a situation like Marigold’s.
Thanks to Jessi L. Patton, of Patton Law, LLC, for taking the time to enlighten us about healthcare decision-making. You can learn more about Jessi and follow her informational blog at www.jessipatton.com. **Please note the information in this interview is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. Because laws differ from country to country and from state to state, you should consult a lawyer who is familiar with estate planning statutes in your area.