It's hard to find an upside in the battle and controversy that raged over the recently deceased, long-time vegetable Terri Schiavo. After all is said and done, we as a nation seem no closer to agreeing upon when life is no longer worth living, when the wishes of family come before the wishes of the individual, and whether the state has any right to interject itself into the very personal matter of when a person should be removed from technological aids that keep them alive. These are, no doubt, debates that shall rage forward for some time, as they cut to the very primal ethical dimensions of what it means to be alive. Unlike arguments over social security or sex on television, I suspect the issues raised by the Terri Schiavo's predicament will be with us as long as mankind is a species.
But, there is, one positive effect of the Terri Schiavo situation. Doctors are now seeing a huge upsurge of people making clear their wishes if they are found to be in a similar vegetative state that Schiavo found herself. It is, of course, nothing anyone wants to think about, but that many people are taking this occasion to prepare their wishes beforehand is an encouraging sign.
Thus it seemed that I, as well, should put down my thoughts as to what decisions I would to be made if I find myself in a similar, calamitous Schiavo-like situation. And so I offer below, my living will! (A living will for a living Wil, if you excuse the pun.)
Now, I imagine if I do slip into a coma there will be some time period where the doctors will need to observe my status to determine the seriousness of my situation. At that point, I would of course like to remain on a feeding tube and ... well, let's talk about that feeding tube for a bit shall we? I don't know what sort of gruel they were pumping into Terri, but I suspect even in a vegetative state my culinary senses shall remain quite refined and I will require meals both healthy and satisfying. Perhaps a protein shake in the morning, something with vanilla and bananas but certainly no strawberries or grapes. Then a hearty lunch, served no later than 1:30, with a pre-chewed meat, some mandarin oranges and a selection of carrots, broccoli and peas. (Anyone who makes a snide comment about "vegetables for the vegetable" shall be removed from the room.) For the dinner menu, I would request the following: Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays should be an Italian or Mexican meal (I suspect I won't be worrying about weight gain at this point.) Tuesdays and Thursdays will go to Chinese (The Kung Pao Chicken at Golden Lotus in Santa Monica is a particular favorite of mine.) On weekends at least one meal should be sushi and then something simple like a turkey and bacon bits sandwich with jalapeņo mustard. And let's not forgot a staple of my diet, a glass of merlot, poured down my throat, every hour on the hour.
That will of course feed the body, but what shall feed the mind? It seems idea that if I must spend the remainder of my life in a vegetative state I do it in the same manner as so many Americans: In front of a television! The complete eight seasons of "FRIENDS" should be played frequently, as well as many of the vehicles from the classic NBC "Must see TV" comedy line up. "Cheers", "Taxi", "Seinfeld", "News Radio", "Frasier" should often grace the screen as they are a testament to the heights of which mankind's ingenuity has scaled. But please - no reality television! I may be a vegetable, but I'm not dead!
Of course, the moment may arrive when the doctors determine I have no hope of recovery and will only be remain alive with technological assistance. In that case, I say, as so many young women have said to me, "Remove the tube!" I've no wish to continue "living" in a dim fog of sensation, having a single photo of my open mouthed, drooling potato-shaped mug being broadcast all over the FOX network. (If you must, use the picture from my senior yearbook where I'm playing guitar. Damn I looked cool!)
Of course, when one cedes that there is at least one situation wherein they would chose expiration opposed to continued existence, the mind begins to search for other such situations. For instance, were I to lose both my arms and legs I would also like to chose death. Were I to be completely deprived of functioning sexual organs I would also hope a kind hearted soul would take it upon themselves to end my pain. (Are you listening Clint Eastwood?) Indeed, the list of situations upon which I would chose death over life run rampant, from a Ben Affleck Presidency, to being seen in public with colored mismatching socks, to being exposed in any way to Tim Allen's "Home Improvement" series.
I can only hope this living will can offer some guidance in the numerous worst-case scenarios that could befall me. And I recommend that you, the reader, author your own living will and apply the same seriousness that I have applied to mine.