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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide

Two weeks ago a close 90 year old relative had a major stroke.  Efforts to save her were heroic.  Still, she will never be able to take care of herself and her husband of 92 is not able to perform that task.  Hospital bills are in the 100 thousands and growing (covered by medicare and a supplement).  Soon she will be sent home from rehab in an un-rehabilitated state.  It seem that what can be done as far as rehab is concerned coincides with how much Medicare will pay.  Still, the social net is in place and home care will be provided at taxpayer expense for the rest of her life. This includes care for the husband with daily chores such as shopping and cooking.

Money is not the issue in this case, quality of life is!  Her husband has perhaps a few years left to watch his wife mumble (sometimes) incoherently in her wheel chair.  She will endure having some stranger feed her and change her diaper.

Both the husband and wife have expressed a wish to be able to simply lay their heads down together and go to sleep.
What would be so wrong with that?


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  2. This is an exceedingly tough question, and one which saddens me to take either side. I think back to "Brave New World" and I think that perhaps suffering has its merits; even if it is me who is suffering. There is not just the slippery slope of defining just when someone is ill enough or old and decrepit enough to permit an assisted death, or the darker side of when devious relatives might wish to rush things a bit to their benefit (not suggesting that in this case, of course), but there is also the slippery slope of how much suffering society is willing to put up with before they institute a way of dismissing it. I think that one of humankind's greatest assets is also one of its greatest perils: its ability to acclimate to almost anything. What is shocking today will seem quite tame in a generation and then what shocks that generation will not seem as strange to the one after that. It seems like many movies these days are so much in the extreme (violence, dystopia, etc), probably because those of 10 years ago are not boldly shocking enough to bring people to the theaters. I'm starting to ramble now, so I'd better stop while I have a point, which is "I think that we need to feel sadness and pain on occasion (at least when it is there to be felt), or we might turn into something we wouldn't like." That doesn't do that couple any good, but I suppose one day I'll have to 'do my part' as well.

  3. I Positing that perhaps their misery has a purpose, even though it is not for them, sounds a bit cold. I apologize. I didn't intend to make light of their misery. I see and feel your point and their misery very acutely.

    1. ...and I would support their choice of action.