Sep 16, 2012

Death With Dignity

Yesterday I watched a documentary on HBO about the state of Oregon and how it allows people who, when they have tried all these medical options, chemo etc..they have the legal right to ask their doctor to write them a prescription so they can die at home at the time of their choosing. Every person that was featured seemed almost happy that their pain and suffering would soon be ending. They had made peace with death. This touched me deeply. Can you see a time where your quality of life would decline to the degree that you would prefer to say good-bye while you still had your mental faculties and wits? Would you just want to live for the press of a morphine button? There was another not so nice side to this story. A rather poor gentleman had prostrate cancer and his insurance company sent him a letter that stated unless the doctors could guarantee that any new meds would increase his life-span by a 5 year minimum, than they would only pay for hospice and pallitave care. They also offered to pay for the death with dignity prescription. Leave it to insurance companies to fuck up something well intended. So now the quarrel in other states is will this become a way of euthanizing the elderly poor? I put nothing past big business. One gentleman was given his 6 month left to live note and was trying to move to Oregon but was told that he would be dead from cancer before he would be able to establish residency. Most of the doctors felt that by allowing patients to do this themselves they weren't violating the oath of "Thou shall do no harm". I was wondering what you intelligent readers feel about this. I personally think that when a human being reaches the point of not being able to control their body fluids and is in a medicated haze, there isn't that much quality of life. I believe this should be an option for everyone. I hope that when my time comes to meet my maker I shall be surrounded with family and have full clarity. On a lighter note....Happy Sunday. I am noticing the birds are sleeping in later and the sun is getting later in making the grand appearance. It's getting to be that time of year.....Peace!


luluberoo said...

Lori, I have to go with Jewish law on this matter:

"A person's soul is not his to extinguish, and he cannot direct someone else to assist him in ending his life."

That said, I don't know if I could go on living if I was paralyzed, dependent on someone else, etc. It is a very tough moral and ethical dilemma.

Annette said...

Lori, I take care of the elderly who are in this situation everyday. Some are just laying there waiting to die while I tend to their most private needs. My mind says to let them go if that is what they want to choose. However, I will tell you that I have watched miraculous healing and work be done in family relationships during those last weeks and months... that if the patient had chosen to leave earlier than God had allowed, would have been missed. In my opinion, there is something about surrendering to God's will, even in our death, that is right and best for us, even when it doesn't seem like it by all outward appearances. How many times have we taken things into our own hands and made a mess of everything. But the times that we step aside and accept God's will...we experience so much that we never could have imagined.

Lori said...

luluberoo & Annette-

I am replying to both of you as I feel you both gave really sage and similar advice. I have given this much thought as I helped my friend Joe fill out his DNR. I have always believed in give in and let God. This documentary just struck me,as the main thing that I got from it was how it could be used in an improper manner. I would like to leave my body in God's hands.

Wendy said...

I think if someone has a legitimate need for ending their life (terminally ill, no hope of recovery, no quality of life, etc) then death with dignity should be a choice for them. Not because they are just depressed or anything. It should be a sound decision.

But I agree with you that euthanizing the poor and elderly, no matter how you spin it, is just plain old creepy and concerns me.

the walking man said...

Fuck 'em as soon as i get the diagnosis that says i am terminal that will be the last treatment I will allow. medicate me for pain and let me the fuck go. I've watched too many people go through chemo and radiation or suffer from strokes to ever even consider it.

Art Buchwald is my hero in this regard. Then he fooled the shit out of his doctors and lived well for months longer than they said.

Lori said...

Wendy- I watched and cared for my late husband who died from esophegeal cancer and staph infection. I could see how tired he was of fighting after awhile. Many people I know don't consider being bed-ridden and not having all their faculties a quality of life. It is a very touchy subject. The documentary is on HBO this month. If you have access to HBO I highly recommend watching it.

WM- You sound like the one gentleman at the beginning of the documentary. He was rather gruff and matter of fact. He stated that noone wants to die, but there comes a point where you have to decide if you are really living. It has given me much to think about after watching this.