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Death with Dignity

I feel I need to make a personal comment about an incident that has just transpired. One of my closest friends husband (David) has had Parkinson’s for some 20 years. He was taking massive doses of meds but was getting worse and worse. He often suggested he wanted to end it (they have 2 big ponds and he mentioned jumping into one or even wandering the street). Now the disease has started to affect his mind. She sometimes needed time off and a couple of us would take turns being with him while she went away for several days. She had worked out a way to reduce the rent to a tenant in exchange for daytime care. Last Tuesday she told me he had gotten up in the middle of the night (he does this a lot). He was making some of his usual noises but eventually came into the room and turned on the lights. His face was covered in blood. He had fallen and had a small cut on his cheek so it was not serious. What no one knew he had ruptured his bowel. He said he wasn’t feeling well and slept for 2 days. Thursday evening he woke with pain and swelling and was heli-ported to a hospital in a large city to the north, Bellingham. She took a ferry and when she arrived the hospital had performed surgery and induced a coma. He has a DNR and she enlisted a lawyer to get the hospital (St. Joseph – a Catholic hospital) to remove the coma inducing meds and a breathing tube. He has been on morphine for pain and the mother and their 2 daughters have been with him. She said he was slowly going. She announced that last night he died (peacefully). Today would have been his 71st birthday).

She has been having a nightmare life dealing with this issue. One prognosis was a nursing home which would have decimated their funds. After the surgery a nurse told her he could have been mended but would have to have a colostomy bag. This would have put an impossible burden on both of them. Again, medical facilities and doctors don’t seem to care about extending suffering. They see preserving life, no matter the cost, as paramount. This needs to change for all our sake. She said she has 100 feelings but I think relief is the biggest one. She can now go on with a life that has been increasingly been put on hold for a long time.

The emergence the Death with Dignity program brought on by my late partner has really made this incident one that we and she have seen in the proper light. Sometimes there are good gifts that keep on giving.

I don't have a single photo. She is the founder of the Patos Lighthouse keepers group and is the one in the middle (blue outfit next to the guy - ranger in od jacket).

By JackPedigo8
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10 comments

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0

I have talked this over with my kids, they know my wishes. No machines, no life extending measures. Yes, I need to get it in writing. I am sorry for your loss and your friend's loss. I believe in quality of life over quantity.

It is funny thing but actually everyone is glad this has finally ended which includes David. I don't think people are sorry but sad things got this far.

@JackPedigo That is totally right. Medicine is focused on prolonging life. They don't care about the quality of life. We have to stop looking at death as defeat. We all are going to die one day. I want to keep my dignity and not have any pain. A really good book on this subject is "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande.

@JackPedigo That is totally right. Medicine is focused on prolonging life. They don't care about the quality of life. We have to stop looking at death as defeat. We all are going to die one day. I want to keep my dignity and not have any pain. A really good book on this subject is "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande.

@HippieChick58 I read it and really liked the first half. Unfortunately, in the end the author succumbed to the very thing he was against. It seemed like a cop-out to me.

2

That was harrowing reading, which just made me feel sad and angry.

I have little respect for a medical profession that places the preservation of life over quality of life. Their blinkered, narrow direction means living torture for the patient. Something these 'professionals' would not wish upon themselves. Spineless hypocrites.

Things have got to change. The silver lining in this story is the respite this woman can now enjoy. But there are no winners.

They were married when they both were 18. She has never been on her own. After going through this the last decade she will appreciate being on her own and doing what and when she wants. Also she has her own person group of 'slaves" (a couple of us).

2

I am sorry you had to go through this, and very sorry for your friend's family. This IS a very sad situation, but should be very enlightening for the friends and family of this man. Everyone now has a better idea of what they need to do to preserve their right to die. I don't have an "advance directive," and I should. I also want a DNR and I need to compete the paperwork for that. (Maybe these are the same thing, and I just don't realize it. If sos, I apologize.)

At risk of sounding hard-hearted, this outcome (his death) is a mixed blessing. His family has lost their husband and father, but his family has also been spared the burden of continuing to deal with his care, which was only going to get more demanding. (I don't agree that his having to wear a colostomy bag was "impossible," unless by that you mean that he would not have been able to care for it or even understand why he had it.) My father spent 2.5 years in a nursing home with Alzheimer's, and had he been in his right mind, he would NOT have wanted to spend all that time as a shell of himself. His body was there, but the person who was my father was long. gone. If I find I am facing the same outcome, I want to be able to take my life before ending up as a vegetable.

Everyone must have an advanced directive and someone who will make sure it is carried out. He was falling several times a day. He was also developing a bit of dementia. Having to deal with a bag would have been next to impossible for him and an additional torture for his wife. You know only a few states have the Death with Dignity program and more are looking into it. A California judge just rescinded the states program (my posting just after this one).

3

So sorry your friend had to go through this. We are really quite cruel the way we allow people to linger between life and death. We don't do this with our pets, and anyone who would do this to their pet would be seen as being inhumane. I have been with both people and pets as they die. I feel the pets are getting the better ending. I'm all for personal choice in just about any matter. I think it is wrong that other's religious convictions have set up this system and that their fight to keep it should be taken away from from them and given as a right to die as you wish, with your own convictions.

Ktcyan Level 7 May 17, 2018

The big problem is how do we handle long and slow illnesses like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or many other debilitating diseases. Did you see my posting about the 104 year old scientist that went to Switzerland to end what for him, had become an unbearable life. This country has just begun to deal with this. The only thing we should be sorry for is that we have to go through all this hassle to get some peace.

2

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Sending you thoughts of peace and comfort.

Having sat through several deaths of family members after long, chronic illnesses, I am a huge supporter of death with dignity. We have it in Oregon but it is still hard to utilize the law. We still have a long way to go, people deserve better...

Some European countries have an euthanasia program. I just sent a post about a 104 year old scientist going to Switzerland to get life ending drugs.

@JackPedigo I saw that...from Australia I believe. Sad that he stated he had had lost all interest in life 5-10 years previously, had tried and failed to commit suicide several times during that timeframe and finally had to run a crowd funding campaign to cover the costs to participate in Switzerland's program.

@AdorkableMe I wouldn't say he lost all interest.I would say that he was finding life too difficult and his life meant imposing on others. Ones life should be about quality not quantity!

1

Dope in lethal quantity can give you death with dignity or 9mm
No need to ask anyone else including government

Suicide is not dignified and often shocks many people and leaves some people left with guilt for years for not being there or given the chance to help. When the act is done in a controlled and informed way it is less traumatic and there is less chance for mistakes and arrangements are already in place for the next steps after death. That's where all the death with dignity part comes in compared to suicide.

That would be acceptable (IMHO) if it weren't for the possibility of screwing up and ending up a vegetable without any ability to do anything about it, which has happened.

@Silverwhisper

Some people don't have that option.

@Ellatynemouth not in California
In California there’s plenty of dope and guns

Read the book "Final Exit". Successful suicide is not easy and can and often does lead to unintended consequences.

@Morganfreeman

I meant the option of assisted suicide. Many can't afford it.

@JackPedigo no shit — we are hard to kill depending on specie

@Morganfreeman The book mentions one of the best ways is to go to a party supply store and get a canister of Helium. With a plastic bag, lots of sleep aids and a tube from the Helium canister it is a quick, easy and painless way to go.

0

Terrible that you must be aware of the type of hospital you go to. I had a friend with same problem

Marine Level 8 May 17, 2018

Religious hospitals are becoming increasingly common. I can't understand how they can survive here public hospitals often can't.

@JackPedigo Church donations

4

What a truly awful final ending , that didn't have to happen ! Condolences to you, and her, and the family ...

evergreen Level 8 May 17, 2018
2

Parkinson is not easy to deal with, as i know, one doctor already told me i have the startings. Its hard to deal with. I have do take meds that help, but i can say this once i get so bad i can't take care of myself at all, i will either goto a home or something else.

Good luck to you.

2

I too have Parkinson’s, and when the disease progresses to the point where I no longer have any quality of life, I would like to be able to say this is it! However, living in a state with an antiquated legislature and anti progressive bias, that wil never be an option for me.

i can understand that. i have noticed with parkinson's depression comes with it to. sigh

Good luck to you

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