If you are planning to have surgery, consider having an in depth discussion regarding your wishes and what you think is appropriate for your code status. What is a code status, you may wonder? It's a document identifying your wishes regarding resuscitation, CPR, code medications, ventilators and in general, what you want to happen if you become catastrophically ill.
When it comes to surgery, code status can be a very gray area. People who decide they don't want to be on a ventilator in the event of major illness may require a ventilator if they are having surgery (general anesthesia cannot be given without intubation and a ventilator being used).
For that reason and many others, it is important that your surgeon (and your family!) be very clear about your wishes. Is a ventilator ok during surgery, but not ok after surgery? What if there is difficulty weaning you from the ventilator after your procedure? If you needed dialysis and were too ill to offer your opinion, would you want it?
Questions to consider:
Would I want to be on a ventilator?
If necessary, do I want CPR to be done to save my life after surgery? During surgery?
If I was extremely ill, would I want everything possible done for me, including intubation, being on a ventilator, dialysis, defibrillation (shocks) and more?
It isn't enough to think about these things, you need to discuss your thoughts with the people who will be making decisions for you in the event of your illness. In all likelihood, there will be no need to even discuss the matter, but it's always better to be safe when it comes to surgery.
Surgery Questions? Check Out The Surgery Forum at surgery.about.com/forum