Dying Right

The Republican “death panel” stuff is pure and simple c–p.

All of us are mortal, i.e. going to die some way. Probably the best way to go is suddenly with little or at least short-lived pain. Such usually sends one into shock which blocks the pain. Sudden death — stroke, heart failure, accident — is hard on our loved ones. But even harder is a slow dragged out death from such as cancer or MS in their final stages. Caring doctors do not prolong this process — but not all care.

I recall a couple, dear friends of ours who died quite young several years apart. His death was due to leukemia — his doctor dropped him as a patient when his insurance ran out. She developed lung cancer which was only discovered in the late stages. It spread rapidly and particularly painfully to her spine. My wife and I were startled when her family left suddenly (parents and daughters). The next day when we returned to the hospital we found her heavily sedated (unconscious) with no evidence of fluid or food support. We asked her doctor why not and he said she could have lasted quite a time. He had obviously decided it was time to let her go and she had died when we returned the next day.

Obviously now we need to let terminal patients and their families deliberate with their doctors as to whether to fight on to the bitter end or let death come. This happened with a person very dear to me. She was unconscious with blood on the brain — she had stopped talking in mid sentence when her heart and breathing suddenly stopped. This happened two more times and the doctors explained that this would repeat. It did several weeks later and she died peacefully.

The Republicans would try to block humane medicine. It is no one’s business how quickly one dies but those personally involved in consultation with their doctors.

There are right and wrong ways to die. I have seen both.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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