Posted by: anniewilson | February 3, 2009

Suicide, the last act of self determination

In a world where doctors can impregnate (?) a woman with 8 embryos while she already has 6 other kids at home, it’s rather stunning to think that doctors so intent on beginning life suddenly “don’t want to play God” at the end of life. A full grown American citizen who has possessed self determination for their entire life, cannot determine the date or condition surrounding their death. There is no way to legally obtain the means to end life peacefully and successfully. I find it interesting how hypocritical we can be when discussing such life and death issues.

We can end a half developed human baby life, but we can’t end a miserable, painful and spent adult life earlier than the appointed date with death. We haughtily take pride in our total “respect for life” but if a person has committed any one of a few different crimes, treason being one of them, suddenly life CAN be taken, but ONLY by the government. Don’t talk about your God around my children…but you need to consider what He has in store for you and your suffering.

Years ago, I worked the evening shift on an oncology unit and answered the call light of a patient I had never met. He was as alert as I was and after I did whatever it was he needed me to do, I spoke with him for a moment before I left for the night.

When I came back to work in the morning, he was my patient. And, he was dying. Overnight his condition had become so bad that he was drowning in his own fluid. I couldn’t suction his lungs enough to keep them clear. He was in agony. He looked at me and said, “If you can’t make this stop, at least help me not feel it.” The man had an arterial blood gas that pretty much told me that he wouldn’t be around for my entire shift.

I called the doctor. It took a few calls and a few increases in dosages but eventually, I was sitting on the side of his bed, pushing morphine into his vein, a little at a time, until he calmed down. At one point he seemed to be sleeping. I said his name. He opened his eyes and smiled. I asked what was so funny.

He said, “My wife left me on my 28th birthday and when she did, I remember praying to God, ‘Lord, whatever else you do to me…just let me die with a redhead in my bed. It looks like my prayer has been answered”

“Go for it.”, I told him. I smiled as he did just that.

Now, decades later, it would be impossible to know if the last dose of morphine ended his life before lunch instead of after lunch and I’ve often wondered about that. That last dose was a doozie.

I’m glad that I was there with him that day. It was an experience that I’ve only had once in my life and I’m pleased with the way I handled it. No one but that patient and I know what exactly happened in the hospital room that morning, and he’s not talking. It was one of the most human moments of my life to date.

More often than not, dying patients would not receive enough morphine to ease the pain, they certainly wouldn’t get enough to do any harm. And then you have 90 year old men who just want to decide when they should lie down and swallow a bottle of Nembutal but they can’t…all because of some religious view on the subject that we aren’t supposed to consider when we legislate morality in the first place. We still haven’t learned that you simply cannot legislate morality. The people who believe strongly about moral issues WILL break the law, and then they’d be willing to go to jail over their beliefs. How do you argue with determined old hippies?

The ridiculous arguments from some doctors are repugnantly offensive. They suggest that we should make death or disability a much more positive experience for all concerned. I don’t know about you but I can’t think of any positive spin that you could put on wiping my ass that would make it a dignified option. Elderly people have to be made to feel more important and less of a burden. Not many elderly people at all would want their own kids to spend weekends visiting them in a nursing home. Then you have people who say that the older/disabled/terminally ill would naturally be depressed and we need to pursue treatment for that rather than a peaceful exit from this world. A 90 year old man may be a lot of things, but rarely do you find one who is depressed.

Depression and fear come about when there is so much uncertainty in store for them. Will I suffer? Will I be a vegetable? Will I be a mere shell of myself? How long will that go on? Will I have ANY control over myself at all? Depressing is the fact that the majority of elderly people who suicide out choose hanging and that’s a horrible death. You basically smother and that’s one of the worst deaths that I’ve ever witnessed.

There is very good medication available that would allow a person to choose his or her death day and to do so in whatever fashion they so desire. You could die alone, with friends and family or choose to have a huge party the day you plan on escaping. No one, absolutely no one else is truly made a better person for watching family members rot to death. The elderly/seriously disabled/terminal patient must break the law to obtain that medication. As I said though, it’s tough to stop a bunch of dying hippies from doing what they want to do when they want to do it.

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