Written by Jenny Smiechowski, staff writer for The Birches
Cardiologist and author Catherine Pesek Bird will visit The Birches on January 10 for a lecture and book signing for her new book “Your Voice, Your Choice: Personalizing Your Healthcare Decisions.”
Pesek Bird’s book uses real-life examples to illustrate the importance of documenting your medical wishes before an unexpected medical emergency strips you of your voice in your own medical care. The lecture and book signing will take place from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. in The Birches’ Main Dining Room.
According to Pesek Bird, her book and lecture provide essential information for anyone who believes they might eventually die—in other words, everyone. She’ll share details about five types of advanced directives (legal documents that outline your wishes for end-of-life care) and provide end-of-life advice that only someone with a medical background could offer.
Top among Pesek Bird’s advice is a three-step process for taking control of your medical wishes—evaluate, establish and empower. Pesek Bird recommends you start by evaluating your options based on your age, health conditions and goals. Establish what medical interventions you would want done based on your evaluation. Then share your wishes with someone in your life and empower that person to speak for you in medical situations where you can’t speak for yourself.
The last step in the process is particularly crucial, says Pesek Bird, because if you don’t choose someone to speak for you, your healthcare decisions may fall into the hands of someone who isn’t ready to accept that responsibility.
“Perhaps that next of kin isn’t the person you want speaking for you. Perhaps it’s some nephew who lives two states away that you haven’t seen in ten years, but you’d rather have it be the person you go play bridge with,” said Pesek Bird. “Naming that person, truly empowers them, so when that decision is asked of them, they’re not a deer in the headlights. They know exactly what to say given the situation, because they have already been a part of the process.”
Pesek Bird learned the importance of planning for the unexpected at a young age. She was a college student when her mother had a cardiac event next to the Christmas tree. This experience taught her that everyone, no matter what their age, should make decisions about what they want in the case of a medical emergency and decide who they want to speak for them in those situations.
“Have these discussions with your friends and family. Let someone know exactly what you want in detail,” said Pesek Bird. “Get all the necessary paperwork in order, and share it with all the appropriate people, so your voice will be heard, even if you’re not able to speak for yourself.”
If you’d like expert advice on making your voice known in your future healthcare, join us on January 10 for Catherine Bird Pesek’s book signing and lecture. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, contact Katie Schaff Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-581-7350.