The public is not being given any type of detailed information about comedienne, Joan Rivers’ condition, except to say that she is in “critical condition” and has been placed in a medically induced coma after having suffered a heart attack on Thursday August 28th.
Rivers was reportedly, having an endoscopy done to check her throat after a “spot was found on an x-ray”. Other reports have stated that the star was undergoing minor surgery. Either way, she was not in a hospital at the time and was likely under sedation while a biopsy was taken (likely what they consider “minor surgery”). At some point during this procedure, Rivers’ heart stopped and she stopped breathing. They termed it it a “cardiac arrest”.
Details on what happened during the 81 year old’s event, were not clear but, Rivers was certainly no stranger to surgeries or anesthesia as she has been an outspoken advocate for plastic surgery. What is known is that Rivers was undergoing an endoscopy in Yorkville Endoscopy on East 93rd street near Third Avenue, in New York when she suddenly stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. At 9:30 a.m., an emergency 911 call was placed which stated that a woman had gone into arrest. It is unclear at this point in time, how much was done at the endoscopy clinic or what they were able to do or not do. However, Rivers was transferred to the hospital E.R. by ambulance.
Rivers was listed in “Critical” and some sources, citing “serious” condition but, has been put into a medically induced coma and is reliant upon a ventilator.
Rivers’ daughter, Melissa arrived from L.A. to NY to be at her mother’s bedside and is said to be “inconsolable”. Friends are taking care of her teenaged son while she is at her mother’s bedside.
Well-wishes and prayers have been pouring in for Rivers and the family have stated that they are grateful for all and has expressed their wishes for prayers for the comedienne to continue as they struggle with the uncertainty.
It is not known yet, how much brain damage may have occurred while Rivers suffered from the attack and stopped breathing. Sources close to the family have said that Rivers made it known that should she not be able to live a full and active life, she would not want to go on. Family seems to be agreeing with this wish. There has been no word on when they will attempt to diagnose how much damage may have been done or whether there was any.
What is clear is that the family may have a heart breaking decision to make if Rivers condition shows brain damage as well as to other organs in her body once fully assessed. Right now, the hope is that she makes a full recovery with little to no damage but, the possibility exists that the family may have to make an extremely hard decision in days to come if there is damage to her brain or other organs.
Having been in this position with family members of my own, it is with both empathy and sympathy that I hold onto hope that Rivers will see a miracle occur and awake with no real issues. The act of having to make this type of a decision, should it become necessary, is one that none of us ever want to have to make for someone we love and treasure. However, having had to make those decisions twice now, it’s easier to look back and say, “they wouldn’t have wanted to have lived that way”.
While hope is still there and everyone prays for Rivers’ full and complete recovery, it seems important to remind everyone that none of us know what may or may not be happening to anyone in our lives or, even ourselves. If we love our families, we will make our wishes known to those who would most likely be the ones to make decisions on our behalf should we not be able to make them for ourselves. Though still hard, at the least, we know what it is that our loved ones would want us to do should (heaven forbid) we end up in circumstances such as Rivers is in at this time and, vice versa, we also need to know what others feel and would want if we were the ones who were having to make that decision. it removes a fair amount of guilt and angst for all concerned.
As we await the news on Joan Rivers, take the time to talk to those closest to you, or those who would be in the position to make such a decision for you as well as asking those for whom you would be in that position for, to talk about each other’s wishes should something like this happen. Alternatively, make a “living will” where your wishes are in black and white for doctors and family or friends to follow. It’s a gruesome subject and one that none of us wish to talk about or hear but, like we’ve just seen in Rivers’ case, the simplest of things can result in tragic or nerve wracking circumstances that require knowledge of that person’s wishes or, for them to know ours.
From my little corner of life, I see this as a necessary conversation no matter how distasteful, painful or emotionally touchy a subject this is or might be. The rest of someone else’s life is a long time to live with guilt and those hours and sometimes, moments’ worth of decisions can cause guilt that can last a lifetime for those left behind. Take the time now to establish your wishes so that no one has to struggle with the guilt or fear.