On assisted suicide.

Christina here.

The other day, my aunt died after being on life support for pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs) and all sorts of other nasties, including dementia.

I’m not really sad about her death, which I guess makes me a heartless bitch (kidding!), plus we knew it was coming.

Anyhow, right before she died, she said that she wanted to be taken off life support so she could stop suffering and go be with her long-deceased husband in heaven.

Then, she suffered for several miserable hours or days (I don’t actually know how long) before dying.

So that got me thinking. First of all, how much sense does it make to let someone suffer in pain like that after taking them off life support? Dying of a pulmonary embolism hurts. It’s like drowning in air, for hours or days, until your heart stops.

Even if you know your aunt is going to die a miserable death in a hospital room in pain, scared out of her mind because of the dementia that has robbed her of her ability to think and understand the world around her, you can’t give her that last shot of morphine because doing so would be “playing god”.

Secondly, while I would have never in a million years considered robbing my dying aunt of her belief that she’d be meeting her husband in heaven once she dies, she won’t. She’s spent her life being a Christian, going to church, praying before meals.

At least she doesn’t know that it was all for naught.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

 

 

 

About christinastephens
  • neatospiderplant

    I’m sorry for your family’s loss, but glad your aunt’s suffering is over.

    In college, we had a hospice worker come in and talk to our class a couple times about palliative care, she said that the thinking was starting to change about pain management for end of life care and that the old school of thought was that higher doses of pain medications could cause the patient to die sooner, but that more and more, palliative care patients are being given higher doses of pain meds since keeping them comfortable trumps having a few extra days when the patient is that far gone anyway (quality over quantity). I guess maybe the ability to do that depends on the doctors or maybe the laws (I’m in Canada.) But either way, I’m sorry to hear your aunt couldn’t get the pain meds she should have.

    • Tanya2

      That Christina would say those thngs about her aunt to gain a few internet poists shows how debased and vile she is, and how her atheism has brought it out.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

        Turtles are balloons.

      • Anonymous

        It just goes to show…YOU aren’t understanding.

  • neuroturtle

    I am sorry for your loss. =(

    This is going to be far, far too relevant in my family over the next few… I don’t even know how long. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll cry at work. =/ My stepfather (who married my mom when I was very young so he’s been very much like a father) is facing a bleak prognosis with stage 4 lung cancer with liver and brain mets.

    We were allowed to end our dog’s suffering when she had brain tumors. I can’t think about that happening to him over weeks and months. That’s not the “sanctity of life.” That’s fetishizing suffering.

    (Nice first post on this blog, isn’t it? heh. Long-time lurker, good to finally say hi!)

    • Anonymous

      I’m sorry for your ongoing loss. Sometimes we have to suffer something like a living funeral. Please, I hope you will call Hospice. He can suffer much less with this type of care. He’ll still need oversight, because there are people in every organization that don’t understand the goal, which is to reduce suffering as much as possible. Sometimes aggressive treatments do help reduce suffering, so don’t be afraid to demand them, if warranted. Wishing you the best through this horrible time and hoping you have moments of joy and laughter as often as possible.

  • Elizabeth

    I agree with you. I strongly reccomend the documentary “How to Die in Oregon”. It follows a woman who is dying of liver cancer and her decision to participate in the “Right to die” law that is only available in Washington and Oregon currently. This is an issue I find wry strongly about and I hope you check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbhoYK5inaE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • http://faehnri.ch/ faehnrich

    I share the sentiment of the frowny faces in other comments.

    My wife and I have a pact to end the other incase something like this happens to us.

    Also, my wife wishes to be cremated and her ashes to be spread in a Kool-aid powder factory so children the world over may drink her. I’m, uh, I’ll be looking into that one incase.

  • Janee

    I’m sorry about your grandmother, I hope your family is alright.
    My grandfather died painfully after a long 3 years of lung cancer. I often wish assisted suicide was a legal option. We should allow everyone to make all decisions about their body as long as they continue to have the mental capacity to do so.

  • katansi

    All my family and most of my friends know that I want to be killed if I’m a vegetable. Assisted suicide should always be a way out for the suffering. I think it’s incredibly selfish of the people around a dying person to want them to hold on, in pain, for the comfort of those who are going to live anyway. I hope that should anything put me in a situation where I’m conscious of pain and unable to be helped that someone in my family or close circle of friends will take me somewhere assisted suicide is an option or would maybe help me OD at home.

    Another feeling on suicide… I had an incredibly close friend kill himself after his marriage fell apart. I was the only person he said goodbye to and I missed his text by five minutes (before he tossed the phone so no one would call apparently). Maybe I could have talked him through those shitty minutes, maybe not. It was devastating to me and especially devastating to his mother who had just lost her husband and mother in the 6 months prior. However, I don’t believe that pain being mental in nature is any less of a reason to make someone suffer for the comfort of others. If someone truly feels they are better off dead, talk to them. If they can’t make it through, it’s a horrible, selfish thing to try and make them.

  • http://liesdamnliesand.wordpress.com Jeff

    My sympathies, Christina.

    This is one of the things that makes me very proud to be an Oregonian. We’ve had our Death With Dignity law for nearly twenty years now, and the only attempt to repeal it was defeated 60-40. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t go far enough.

    As it is, if you have a serious mental illness, including Major Depressive Disorder, you can’t benefit from PAS, even if it’s orthogonal to your desire to die or the depression is secondary to your terminal illness. You also can’t receive the medicine by IV or injection; you have to be physically capable of taking the medicine by yourself.

    Based on my genetics and my health history, there’s a good chance that I will eventually end up in a situation where I want to end my life but can’t legally get a doctor’s help to do so because I’ll be excluded for mental health reasons or too physically weak to take the barbiturates myself. We need voluntary euthanasia laws, but that’s something I’m afraid isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • vicarofartonearth

    Sorry about your relative.

    I am not against the concept as long as my right to keep on living with a significant disability is in place. However there is little profit in keeping some of us who want to live alive. We live in an age where insurance companies just drop people when the cost get to much and the thought of the cost may make some want to kill themselves who would not.

    The pro life conservatives may kill not only Medicare but Medicaid. Medicaid is the state and federal program that pays for things like nursing homes when insurance is capped out. There are many reasons that people who want to live will be trapped by this rush to let people kill themselves because of a disability. If people want to die that is their business, it is my business when they use disability and I am disabled as a reason. Disability is scary, not the end of life. Yes your article was about a person in the last few days, but as Dr. Kevorkian client list showed, many people with lots of years wanted to die, it is one short step to we all want to die or should not be living with disabilities.

  • Ray

    I don’t understand how anyone can be against assisted suicide but be willing to remove life support and condemn their loved one to death by starvation. It is only done because in many places there is no alternative. Death is not a problem but painfully suffering with the only conclusion being death is.

  • Daniel

    My condolences.

    You might be interested in a documentary by Terry Pratchett on the subject here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slZnfC-V1SY

    Or if you don’t have an hour to kill, an interview with him here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwboX_Ebzto

    If you are unaware, he is a prolific writer, atheist, and currently has a rare form of Alzheimer’s that will make him blind in the early stages before his brain completely fails him.

    Needless to say, he has some interesting views on the topic.


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