The excellent article written by Michael Joyce ("End of Life Options," Aug. 18) prompted me to share my own experience with the St. Joseph Health Care System.
I was hospitalized three times last year in two hospitals managed by that health care system. Let me first state that the nursing care I received was outstanding. However, my experience with advanced health care directives was not. This was not a critical issue until the last hospitalization where I felt the need to make my end of life needs known.
I made a request to the nurse to have someone from their administrative division meet with me so I could give them a copy of my advanced directive. An individual from that department did come up, accompanied by one of the staff nurses. I presented them with the copy, which they reviewed right then. The nurse's response was, "You can't do this. You're too young." I felt completely insulted and responded with the comment, "That is my choice and this is my life."
The matter appeared resolved until the next morning when the hospital chaplain came in to speak with me. I felt like he had been sent to my room to assess if I was of sound mind. Our conversation was interesting, covering a wide-range of topics from health care to what services are appropriate to facilitate healing. I actually found the conversation to be one of reciprocal respect and openness. And I assume he found me mentally competent because nothing was ever mentioned again.
That said, this is my life and my body. I am adamant about my right to privacy. That includes how I choose to live my life and how to bring closure to my life. That is not for governments to decide, nor hospitals to decide and, certainly, not religious institutions to decide. I believe strongly in my right to make health care decisions for myself and I also believe that we should all respect one another's choices when it comes to end of life decisions.
Laura Madjedi, Kneeland