Confronting the shadows- planning for the end of life

Sydney Morning Herald, 2 May 2013

For most of us it is the hardest conversation of all, but for Lisa Leskie, talking about the prospect of her death – and the manner of her passing chosen by her in advance – holds no fear.

As a baby, they said she was already living on borrowed time – congenital heart disease, nothing could be done. She wasn’t expected to live past her fifth birthday. In the four decades since then, she’s heard this and faced it again and again, never far from yet another medical crisis.

And so the conversation none of us wants to have – in our own heads, with loved ones, or with a doctor – long ago ceased to lurk in the shadows as a subject too painful to bring into the light of daily life.

Leskie, 41 from Torquay in Victoria, has done it. She’s thought about it – what she wants from the medical profession and what she doesn’t want. She’s discussed it with her doctors. She’s discussed it with her family. She’s told them what she’s decided and she’s written it down.

“My husband knows, he has a copy. Mum has a copy. The hospital has a copy. Even the funeral people have a copy, because I don’t want a funeral – I want a thanksgiving. It’s peace of mind for everybody…For me, this has been fantastic.”

When doctors, nurses and politicians gather in Melbourne this week for a global conference on advance – care planning for medical treatment, it is likely Leskie’s story will resonate more powerfully than any discussion on the policy and political implications of end-of-life planning, because the issue boils down to the deeply personal. to continue reading this story outlining  how Advance Care Directives work