MADISON (WKOW) — Madison man Mike Wiltse was perfectly healthy and newly-wed when he fell sick from COVID-19 and almost died. Now, he’s urging everyone to sign a legal document stating their healthcare decisions in an emergency on this year’s Healthcare Decisions Day.
When Wiltse got married to his wife Luciana in May 2021, he never expected that in just a few months he’d being handing over the reigns to his healthcare decisions just a few months later.
“I had no idea that I would contract COVID,” Wiltse said. “Especially given the fact that I was fully boosted at the time.”
Wiltse, his wife and father-in-law all tested positive for COVID-19 in August. While his wife and father-in-law had mild cases, Wiltse’s condition only got worse and he ended up in the hospital for more than a month.
He spent three weeks in the ICU and 13 days on a ventilator. He experienced delirium and was incapacitated for days, and had no legal document stating how he wished to move forward.
“I will never forget when the doctor and clergy were in my hospital room asking me to sign, you know, a form that gave healthcare power of attorney to Luciana,” Wiltse said.
Eventually, when Wiltse had to be moved to a ventilator, his wife Luciana was able to make the decision for him because of the last-minute signature, but it was nearly too late.
“We did a lot of the financial agreements kind of first, but not really health that much at all,” Luciana said.
According to UW Health, only about 44% of patients over the age of 65 have a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, or a legal document stating their healthcare decisions if incapacitated.
Luckily, Wiltse recovered on the ventilator, but he still has long-term symptoms of COVID-19 today. He says he and his wife were sure to sing a Power of Attorney for Healthcare afterward, and urges everyone regardless of age to do the same.
“You never know when something’s going to happen,” Wiltse said. “If not COVID it could be a motorcycle accident, car accident. It could be anything that puts you into the hospital and put you in the situation that we were in.”
UW Health currently offers free virtual workshops twice a month to help people learn how to create their own Power of Attorney for Healthcare documents. You can sign up and find more information on the documents here.