12 OYS: Wife struggles over medical care for husband without living will

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Aug. 23, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- While few can imagine the agony of deciding whether to pull the plug on a loved one's life even if that is what the loved one would want, Deretha Rhodes is facing that decision after her husband fell ill.

"He requires 24-hour care, and unfortunately, since we did not have insurance, we're basically waiting for Social Security," Rhodes said.

She dedicates every waking moment caring for her husband.

"You just do what you have to do," says Rhodes.

Two months ago, 44-year-old Robert suffered a massive heart attack, leaving him in a vegetative state and unable do anything for himself.

Every four hours Rhodes feeds him through a tube in addition to other medical procedures and wonders if he could communicate if this how he would want to live.

"I think that in the current position that he's in he'd rather pass than not be able to play with his children," Rhodes said.

She says doctors give her husband little hope of recovery.

After eight years of marriage, she says they never once talked about each other's wishes should something like this happen or about setting up a living will.

"I really wish he would have had one just so that it could be known of what he wanted," Rhodes said.

She says it is agonizing not knowing if he'd want to live the rest of his life like this and she prays that he can one day return to his former self.

"But if not that, he would have a peaceful, a peaceful end," Rhodes said.

She says she hopes sharing her painful experience can encourage others to create a living will before it may be too late.

"Even though it's hard ... and you don't want to talk about it, you don't want to think about it, it could happen," Rhodes said.

She says by a miracle she hopes her husband improves, if for no other reason but for their children, but she does not expect him to make a full recovery.

The process of completing a living will takes about an hour but longer if you are debating and are not sure of what life-sustaining treatment you may want if you become unable to make your own medical decisions.
For more information, visit Caringinfo.org and download one for your state.

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