I just watched the movie "You don't know Jack."
"A look at the life and work of physician-assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian. Jack introduced a new idea of doctor assisted suicide. His aim was to help the hopeless patients who are suffering pain to commit suicide effortlessly."
I have been a nurse for almost 30 years. I have read Final Exit by Derek Humphry, Choosing Life or Death by Winslade and Ross and Palmer's Death...the Trip of a Lifetime. I also have an extremely well done PBS video called Before I Die (Medical Care and Personal Choices.)
The video discusses
- Why families have such a hard time talking about death
- How the high financial costs of dying burden patients and their families
- Whether all people should clearly state their wishes regarding end-of-life care
- Whether pain at the end of life is necessary and can be alleviated
- Whether spirituality can better be brought into the dying process
- How the dying process in American can be improved
I could tell you the horrors I see in the hospital brought about by no family discussions about death and no advance directives for health care. This leaves the patient's fate with stressed out family members who try to keep the patient alive forever even though the patient really has been dead inside for weeks, sometimes months. And, the physicians who actually believe they are doing the patient "no harm." The families will opt for ventilators, dialysis, and refuse pain medicines thinking that they need to try to keep the dying patient alert. So very sad.
While watching the movie of Jack Kevorkian this morning, a group of people in the movie started pounding on his car yelling, "Life is God's Choice." Not really, in my mind...especially, not in the hospital. We don't allow people to die in dignity. We don't allow them to die when it is their time. Those that would have stopped breathing, we keep on ventilators. We keep them alive as we watch every part of their body rot, slow and gruesome deaths. It truly is a modern day medical nightmare.
I have a tape recording of my father discussing his end-of-life wishes with my husband and myself. We asked him questions and presented different hypothetical medical scenarios. We asked Pop how he would want to be treated. I am his (DPOA) durable power of attorney for health care. Even though Dad has dementia he is happy and comfortable. Of course, we hope that when his time comes, he will go quickly and suffer no pain. I think that is what all people would want for their friends and family. But, if it isn't discussed before hand, the stress of having to make certain health decisions is quite high.
I know...go back to talking about dogs, Suzanne....I understand, but if this blog today can get a few of you to discuss end-of-life decisions, your wishes, etc. with your family members, I will feel good for sharing a few of my thoughts with you.
I'll step down from my soap box for now :0)