Monday, November 23, 2009

The Cost of Dying

60 minutes last night had an excellent segment on the tendency of our culture to prolong the lives of the sick and dying who instead of taking their natural course of life.

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  1. I agree that we have to come to grips with death as a society. It'd probably be a good exercise to discuss with close friends, certainly spouses and parents, how one would want to be cared for in an end-of-life scenario so that individuals don't feel guilty pulling the plug. My uncle passed away after a head injury put him on life support and as an extended family we decided to let him die. Nobody felt guilt, though everyone felt grief, because we all knew that's what he wanted. I think a lot of Americans worry so much about the ethics of ending someone's life that these kinds of situations occur, which is bankrupting our country. Like the doctor said, a robust ethic of how to end life needs to be cultivated, or we risk making death and human grief much worse.

  2. Here is some additional perspective on the matter:

  3. Loyd, I've had to see several cases of people in my clinic that were kept alive by what i felt was the selfish feelings of their family members. I've been told several times by certain patients that they were in pain and just wanted to rest. One in particular had cancer and it metasticized and got into his brain. Well, cause he was on dialysis for his kidney's it prolonged his life. If they decided to end his kidney treatments, they could of given him enough medication to make him comfortable until he passed which would of been sooner and less painful then the time it took the cancer to completely take over. Like i've said before, once i can't wipe myself, please put me down.

  4. The continuation or discontinuation of life is one of the most personal decisions that can be made. It is a decision that needs to be made on a case by case basis by the family. After 3 short weeks with my daughter my wife and I got to make this very choice. We did seek out the consult of medical professionals. What would choosing life mean for her, what would choosing death mean for us. The doctors and nurses were extremely helpful and open. We were offered the option to talk with parents that had chosen both options. We could see the type of life my daughter would lead; we could talk with parents about letting her go. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the medical professionals at the hospital who walked us thru this difficult process. Knowing the plan of salvation gives us a different perspective on death, it does not make it any less painful. I will never question a person’s decision to prolong life, and I will grieve with anyone who decides to let their loved one return to their heavenly home. If there is to a “robust ethic cultivated” it should be geared toward the process of helping family make this decision. There is no amount of money I would not have paid to give my daughter some type of life here. There is no amount of money I would not have paid to hear her cry. But through consultation with doctors, and many prayers, it wasn’t to be. If there is ever a person that must choose between a couple more days to make their choice, and paying for groceries – I’ll buy them some groceries. Three years later and it’s all I can do to keep from crying. 5 months after my wife and I held our daughter while she took her last breaths my grandma fell into a coma like state. There was no hesitation, no question, she wanted to go home. We didn’t weigh the options, no questions to ask, we told the medical professionals to not resuscitate. A few days later she took her last breath. Same family, same situation, two completely different approaches to it. There is no template that can be applied. It can’t be done. Each person, each situation, it’s all personal and should be dealt with that way.

    Loyd, sorry this is so long. It's a very touchy subject for me - I almost didn't comment but I thought it might add to the conversation.


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