Patient Stories

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Gladys

Taking a burden off your loved ones with the POLST Form

Gladys knows she can change her POLST at any time if her health changes. Now, having a POLST gives her peace of mind to focus on what matters to her most— being with her many family members, visiting loved ones in El Salvador, and watching her two grandkids grow up.

 
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Gladys and her husband, Orlando, came to the United States in 1980. It was a hard beginning. But they worked to build very good lives here with a large, loving group of family and friends.

Gladys was diagnosed with breast cancer. She suffered problems from the treatments.  So it was vital to her to have a POLST to tell her family and doctors what treatments she did and did not want if she could no longer speak for herself. 

She had watched her niece go through a slow and painful death in a hospital “with many machines.” She knew she would never want to die this way. “That is no way to live,” she says. “I don’t want to suffer for nothing. And when you sign the POLST you know that you don’t have to go through that pain.”

Gladys’ POLST lets her choose some treatments and refuse others. For instance, she does want to go to the hospital if she needs to. She also wants to be treated for a lung infection if that happens. But she feels very strongly that she does not want to be in Intensive Care and kept alive on machines. 

Because her form is signed by her doctor, these wishes are medical orders that will be followed if she has a medical emergency.

Having a POLST has helped Gladys feel at peace with her situation: “Even when I had the cancer, I felt peaceful because I knew I had the POLST. I know my daughter is going to do whatever I said to do, and my doctor too. I have taken away the burden from her of deciding what to do if that’s necessary.”

For her daughter, Karen, this is a great relief. “The POLST allows you to have a clear conscience because you are honoring the wishes of your loved one,” she says. “It helps me defend my mom’s wishes and defend myself if family members don’t agree.”

Gladys knows she can change her POLST at any time if her health changes. Now, having a POLST gives her peace of mind to focus on what matters to her most— being with her many family members, visiting loved ones in El Salvador, and watching her two grandkids grow up.