The tattoo stretched across the man's chest. It said “Do Not Resuscitate.” His signature was tattooed at the end.— “When A Tattoo Means Life Or Death. Literally,” NPR.org
Dear Emergency Room Doctor, Emergency Medical Technician, and/or Good Samaritan:
As you may be aware, last summer an unconscious and very ill man arrived at a Miami emergency room with the words DO NOT RESUSCITATE tattooed on this chest. This caused great distress among the ER’s doctors, who were unsure whether a tattoo could, or should, carry the same legal weight as a signed document. The debate surrounding that question continues to this day.
Because I wish to avoid causing similar confusion, I hereby make explicit the meaning and intent behind my own “ink.” Following is a list of my tattoos and how they are to be interpreted.
RIGHT CHEEK: SINGLE TEARDROP-SHAPED FLAME
A teardrop tattoo under the eye typically indicates that the wearer has killed someone or spent time in prison. Look closely at my own teardrop tat, however, and you’ll notice that it isn’t a teardrop at all. It is actually a tiny flame that resembles a teardrop. This represents my desire to be cremated (after death) and how sad that will be.
BACK OF NECK: RAX LOGO
I got this one in 1993, in exchange for free sandwiches for life at any Rax Roast Beef restaurant and I regretted it almost immediately. It has no medical significance, except insofar as unlimited roast beef sandwiches have hastened my death, in which case this tattoo also represents my wish for any survivors to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Rax Roast Beef restaurants.
LEFT BICEPS: SCREAMING BALD EAGLE CLUTCHING DUAL AMERICAN FLAGS
This one has no medical or legal bearing. Pretty fucking sweet, though, right?
LEFT FOREARM: COPAY $20 IN NETWORK, $40 OUT OF NETWORK
This one should be self explanatory. To be honest, it’s mostly for my benefit.
RIGHT FOREARM: “ORGAN DONOR”
This one is ironic—hence the quotation marks.
UPPER RIGHT CHEST: LIGHTNING BOLT THROUGH HEART SHAPE
You may use a defibrillator on me, but only if the person holding the paddles actually shouts, “CLEAR!” before applying them to my chest and also, ideally, “DON’T YOU DIE ON ME!” If someone could get video of this, it’d be great.
LEFT SHOULDER BLADE: DANCING MARIONETTE IN CIRCLE WITH SLASH MARK
While unconscious I do not wish to be dressed in funny clothes or accessories—including, but not limited to, hats; wigs; oversize sunglasses; and “hot cop” costumes—for the amusement of others.
RIGHT SHOULDER BLADE: PLAYBOY BUNNY
I am more than OK with medical personnel of the female persuasion giving me sponge baths, in private, if you know what I mean. Likewise I have no problem sharing a room with a fellow patient getting similar treatment behind a curtain through which silhouettes of the parties involved can be clearly seen.
RIGHT CALF: Wild-Haired Man Standing on One Foot Playing Flute
I wish to be buried with my Jethro Tull albums.
RIGHT CALF: PCF
Translation: “Please Cryogenically Freeze.” When I got this tattoo, shortly after the Rax one, it was strictly tongue-in-cheek. Since then, however, cryogenics technology has advanced by leaps and bounds and I can see no downside in trying it. So yeah, go ahead and freeze me.*
* If the cryogenics facility is out-of-network, please disregard.
Yours in Clarity,
NB: The full text of this document may also be found tattooed on my ass.