I thought this was a really good interview with Katy Butler. Author of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death”. I think its a very important issue that we just keep on avoiding. Even with all the talk about ‘death panels’ in Obamacare, we still don’t really get to the point. We need to have the discussion. We need to really do some deep thinking about how we want to deal with a major injury/sickness and death.
I’ve already been through the ordeal of losing both my parents. I was the one who had to make the decisions at the end for both of them. I do totally agree with Katy that we in America spend WAY too many resources on people who are in the last stage of life. Resources that could be much better spent on helping the quality of life rather than the quantity.
I myself would prefer to die before they put me on the machines, before I don’t know who I am anymore, or recognize my best friends. I don’t even consider that as LIFE! I hope I’m strong enough to just get it over with and off myself if I ever get to that point. I would hate to have to put someone else at risk of going to prison for helping me end my life with some dignity. Yeah, I say that now…
Reading the interview I was reminded of how my father changed his outlook once he found out he had cancer. The doctors at the VA hospital only gave him a few months to live. He had a rare form of cancer and so with a lot of help from friends was able to get treatment at MD Anderson hospital instead. It’s one of the best cancer treatment centers in the world. They did everything they could for him. It added probably a few more months to his life.
But he was sick as hell from the treatments. He was in pain most of the time. He was dying and he knew it but he was also determined to fight til the very end. He did. He died anyway (like we all will).
We were able to get some help for him at the end but it was too little, too late. I was trying to help deal with a lot of medical issues I wasn’t really prepared for (even tho I do have medical PIC- it’s harder to deal with someone you know and love).
Near the end, my father had no idea who I was. It would have been nice if he could have been helped by hospice at home, where he was comfortable and had his friends around. We were finally lucky to be able to put him in a hospice facility in Houston, he died there in only a couple of days.
I have no real idea of what all that cost. I just know it was a LOT and there was no way he could afford it. (And yes, I’m pretty sure those costs were passed on to the general public). No way anybody could afford all that! If he didn’t have that rare form of cancer, I’m sure he would have been ‘allowed’ to die a lot sooner. The hospital thought it was worth keeping him around so they could learn from his case. Hopefully they learned something to help someone else down the road.
I really should have had a discussion with my dad before he got sick. I would have felt better knowing what he really wanted. Not a decision made under that kind of stress. Some states have passed a Death with Dignity Act. I don’t think Texas is one of them. I would support it.