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> Euthanasia, philosophical at best =)
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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 16-Dec-2003, 11:11 PM
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Since most of the topics in here seem to evolve aroun religion and god in my eyes I will start a new topic about something that interests me from my human side as well as in a scientific/philosophical sense

I guess everyone knows what Euthanasia is, so I won't have to explain it.

My mother used to work as a district nurse, and mostly her day was filled by elderly and old people with sometimes terminal illnesses. Since I accompanied her often when I was a child I got in touch with death fairly often over the course of my life, since my mother told me when people that I knew died.
Even at an early stage (my mother would never let me see the things she did, she only let my talk to the people or hold hands sometimes) I sort of recognised that for some people it was good to die, since they suffered enormously under different circumstances.

When I finally got older I decided to write an article in our local newspaper about this which started quite a controvery in the little town where I grew up.
In writing this article I informed myself about Hospices, help to die and what others might have against it.

In my wallet, attached to my passport is a little notice, dated and signed, that if I have a bad accident I don't want to be held alive by machines, just so that people can sit at the bed of a comatose patient and suffer.
I also carry an organ-donator pass around with me. I will not need them anymore once I am dead, but someone else might.

I think now that when I am maybe becoming terminally ill, I would rather die sooner than after machines kept me alive for months and months, maybe even years.

Another example I have seen in my Great Grandparents, they were a happy couple, living in a house they built with their own hands and often sitting in their garden, on their bench and holding hands.
My greatgrandfather fell ill, and we all thought he would have not much time left. But his heart actually began beating regularly again and he could be released out of hospital. Only 3 weeks later my Great Grandmother, who we all thought was very sturdy, died suddenly. My Great Grandfather was heartbroken, slurfing through his house, looking his actual age.
Then, with 98 years, he fell ill again, (last year) and the doctors said he needed a new exit for his stomach. They did the operation and after being a week comatose he died as well, one year after my great grandmother. Was this operation necessary? He would have survived without new stomach exit as well, that was what they said, but the recommended the new one...


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kidclaymore 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 07:44 AM
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I agree Aon I have left the same orders with my wife and have signed a living will. I use to take care of the elderly and have seen a lot of suffering and death. I have seen people put on machines by Drs. so the loved ones can have longer with them, but in reality it just drives up the bills. I used to fight with the Drs about this. This and so many deaths, is why I quit doing this job.


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maisky 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 08:23 AM
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I had Monday mornings in my younger days when I was ready to Euthanized immediately. tongue.gif

Actually, this is a question I had to look squarely in the face. I visited my mother who was dying of ALS, a disease which causes nearly complete paralysis and much pain. Near the end, I stood and looked down at her lying in her bed, barely alive and heavily medicated, and thought hard about how a pillow over her face would end her suffering immediately and give her release. I simply could not do it. Maybe someone else would have done differently.

Good Question!


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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 08:50 AM
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mmh... just to throw controversy into it... would you be able to know what your mother wanted? I mean, if patients have the real wish to die, they should have the help.
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kidclaymore 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 08:51 AM
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Not really Maisky, Its hard to kill even if its for a good reason. I have been there, the last person I stayed with was a 86 year old stroke victim. He had a massive stroke and was completely paralyzed, He couldn't even swollow. The doctors sent him home to die. After coming home he live 16 days without water or food. It was hard to sit there and watch him just waste away. When he finally died he was just skin and bones and he was a big man before the stroke. We gave him morphin under the tongue to keep him comfortable. some times I though it would be so simple just to put a little extra morphin in and let him go, but I couldn't do it ether. I had been with this man for six years and we were real close, but watching him die was just like watching my father die all over again. thats why I quit doing this type of work.
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kidclaymore 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 08:55 AM
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I think my mother would have wanted me or someone to do it. She had a stroke also, she just laid in bed and watch the walls. she live about a nine months after the stroke.
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Elspeth 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 09:23 AM
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This truly is one of life's toughest questions. Especially now that medications make it possible to provide a pain-free escape from the pain with just an extra little dose of morphine.

Last week I had to have our old cat put to sleep. She was in a state like the man kidclaymore described. A tumor had her tongue immobilized and she couldn't swallow. I couldn't just let her starve to death.

I couldn't help sympathizing as I watched her slip away with all who watch loved ones suffer and their desire to give that same release.

But that is a line I know I could never cross. There are things in life that make no sense and just seem cruel. But there are some rules I can't break. And I don't want to live in a society that no longer follows those rules.


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Raven 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 09:43 AM
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Sorry Aon but I think that this should be considered as it would apply to many people. ie what they think happens after the body dies. For many it is a release into a much better existence. (so this is a spiritual question for many)

I personally would not want to be kept alive by machines or by drugs in a comatose state (if I actually make it to old age)

On the other hand I have a small glimse into the emotional strain on the one who must make the decision. It is very hard. I had a dog that I had for 12 years that suffered a stroke and went into a coma back in Feb. Even though she had been in a coma at the animal hospital and they said there was no hope of her coming out of the coma, plus when they discontinued anti siezure drugs she started having seizures almost continuously is was difficult to make the decision to have her put down and it still haunts me emotionally sometimes 10 months later.

I think this is a hard issue no matter how rational it may seem. I think people are kept alive and comatose more for the living and the hope that they may get their loved one back on some level than anything.


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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 10:30 AM
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I know very much that it is an emotional topic as well. I don't know if I would have the strength to kill somebody even though he/she begged for it.

I have never been in that situation and I don't know what I would do if I am.
It depends on our personal views as well as on our empathic abilities. I can understand you kid, I used to work for a family (doing the heavy shopping once a week) and the husband had a stroke, he was paralyzed badly, but he was sort of able to communicate in a way. Then, half a year ater I started working for them, he had another stroke. He lay in bed dieing slowly because he could not swallow nor communicate in any way.

But then, when we do it with animals, why not with humans? I am sure that animals have a being, an awareness as well. We say it is merciful (although it is very painful.. our first dog developed an not-operable tumor, she was waisting away and at some point we decided that it was better for her as well as for us if she was getting the injection that would end her life sleeping. Our Vet at that time did it in our house, at her favourite spot in her basket next to the telly.
It was sad but just theoretical, can we say okay it's better for an animal and then keep humans alive with machines and heavy medication? (all in the case that there is no hope whatsoever).
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myriad 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 11:37 AM
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IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
For anyone who does not want to be kept alive by machines or have other such wishes about their end of life rights, you need to contact an attorney and have it put legally in writing. I am not an attorney. I took a class about law in my profession as a social worker.

There is a thing called an Advance Directive for Health Care here in the states and it enables you to state what kinds of life-sustaining treatment you wish to receive in the future under certain circumstances. If I remember correctly the specifics may change a bit from state to state. But It will only be carried out when you are no longer able to make health care decisions for yourself and are in either terminal condtions or persistent unconsciousness. Otherwise, if you are still conscious and able to make a decision about treatment you will be asked.

The reason these are so important is because even if you say to someone you trust, "please pull the plug," they may not have the "legal right" to and they may be fought by relatives or others in doing so. In fact really strange cases have come up where it has been fought and people have been maintained by feeding tubes or ventihilators for multiple years.

Some of these forms can be found on-line. I will try to get the sites in here soon.

Not so important information:
Sorry if I sound unemotional about the topic. But I can't say that I would know how it feels at all. I think that when my spirit leaves my body I will not care if there is a machine connected or not and I will not care how my flesh is disposed of. However, I know that those who remain will struggle with the decisions and the pain. I plan to consider my parents and my husbands wishes, plan to write out a will and an Advance Directive and hope to make the transition a bit easier for them. wink.gif That is if they miss me at all. If I have a lengthy terminal illness I hope to utilize the Hospice services to help my family come to terms with my death. But the fortunate/unfortunate thing is that I don't know the time or hour of my death or the way that it will happen. It could be minutes from now *shivers* and I don't know it. So with all these plans to do stuff and having not done them... well nothings done.
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JaneyMae 
  Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 12:42 PM
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QUOTE (maisky @ Dec 17 2003, 07:23 AM)
I had Monday mornings in my younger days when I was ready to Euthanized immediately. tongue.gif

Actually, this is a question I had to look squarely in the face. I visited my mother who was dying of ALS, a disease which causes nearly complete paralysis and much pain. Near the end, I stood and looked down at her lying in her bed, barely alive and heavily medicated, and thought hard about how a pillow over her face would end her suffering immediately and give her release. I simply could not do it. Maybe someone else would have done differently.

Good Question!

As I am Maisky's sis, I too was there for our mom's death. Actually, I was there all the time. Maisky had to see her 3 days before her death, 2 days before the coma. It was truly heartbreaking. She didn't want to be there either. She had been an artist and a very creative woman who loved playing golf. She spent the last bit of her life dreaming of all the things she had once done as the disease ate her alive. The last thing to go with her form of ALS is the brain. I couldn't put the pillow over her face. I didn't even have the courage or the heart to give her too much morphine. There was no autopsy as her dying was already on record. No one would have known. But she was my mom.

I believe with all my heart and soul that euthenasia should be legal and practiced!! We don't let our beloved pets suffer. Why should the people we love have to suffer? sad.gif


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tartangal 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 02:55 PM
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It seems to me that there actually seem to be two questions here. One is ,do I want my ( or my loved one) life prolonged by artificial means? The other is do I want to be killed if I am terminally ill or suffering?
The first is not euthanasia although I suppose it may be classed as passive euthanasia. The second is euthanasia.
As a health care worker I have been asked to make someone die sooner than they would do. This was asked of me by caring relatives who had been doing a bedside vigil. This is not something that I would do but i tried very hard to not leave the family with a sense of guilt about having asked. Tne patient involved was unconcious and close to death. I feel that in a way it was the relatives who suffered most , having to watch someone they loved die.But was that a reason to end this lady's life early, I didn't and don't think so.
My feeling is that with medications available, that no one has to die in pain. It only makes me want to push for better palliative and hospice care.
From a personal point of view, I have come to believe that just as life and birth are processes which we must go through, then so is death. It is something that is undertaken alone and our loved ones and carers can only provide a supportive role. For some it is too difficult to see their loved one go through .
From a professional point of view, I wonder how I would gain the trust of the weak and seriously ill if they knew that I was also involved in taking the lives of those who are judged not to have quality of life?The nurse patient relationship relies on the trust between us.
Just some of my thoughts and opinions.


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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 07:20 PM
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I hoped you would reply, jules smile.gif
I spent quite some time thinking about the fact of not dieing in pain, but what about those that die consciously?

I know that I have to contact an lawyer/solicitor/ or attourney, the letter stating that is in the file with my important documents and the ones closest to me know where it is,.
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Elspeth 
Posted: 17-Dec-2003, 10:18 PM
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QUOTE (tartangal @ Dec 17 2003, 02:55 PM)
From a personal point of view, I have come to believe that just as life and birth are processes which we must go through, then so is death. It is something that is undertaken alone and our loved ones and carers can only provide a supportive role.

Beautifully said. smile.gif
Some things about life are painful and seemingly unnecessary, and yet, it is still part of life.
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tartangal 
Posted: 18-Dec-2003, 07:52 AM
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QUOTE (Aon_Daonna @ Dec 18 2003, 01:20 AM)
but what about those that die consciously?

IS being awake and aware necessarily a bad thing before you die? Is it really that we as loved ones find it too difficult to watch ? I wonder.
As for prolonging life unnecessarily and with no hope , then I have no problem with not being attached to drips and feeding pumps. In my opinion, this is artificially prolonging a life which would have ended and is merely providing a delay.
Some people do linger, but does that mean that it is not yet their time to die?If we ensure that they do not suffer,then why would we shorten their lifespan.
In saying this , I recognise that I am not speaking as one who has watched the person closest to me die and so my opinion is not the only one valid.
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