By Judith Graham | The Washington Post
Last month, Minna Buck revised a document specifying her wishes should she become critically ill.
“No intubation,” she wrote in large letters on the form, making sure to include the date and her initials.
Buck, 91, had been following the news about covid-19. She knew her chances of surviving a serious bout of the illness were slim. And she wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be put on a ventilator under any circumstances.
“I don’t want to put everybody through the anguish,” said Buck, who lives in a continuing care retirement community in Denver.
For older adults contemplating what might happen to them during this pandemic, ventilators are a fraught symbol, representing a terrifying lack of personal control as well as the fearsome power of technology.
Used for people with respiratory failure, a signature consequence of severe covid-19, these machines pump oxygen into patients’ bodies while they are in bed, typically sedated, with a breathing tube snaked down the windpipe (known as “intubation”).