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death with dignity


Guest mary

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While having my morning coffee and browsing through the latest AARP magazine, I came across the article on page 72, "Colleen's Choice", which made me wonder what others (those in our position) thought about the Death with Dignity Act, that we have here in Oregon. I have Stage IV NSCLC with mets to the spine and am now on Iressa and feeling fine, but I'm sure the day will come eventually, then ?????? Just curious about how others feel about this topic. God Bless...Mary

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In an ideal world the person whose life would end would be the one who decided when that life was no longer worth living. In reality, the decision making capability would quickly fall into the hands of medical providers and family members, no matter what the wishes may be of the person whose life was being judged as better off ended. Bottom line, all one has to do is look at how the concept of "hospice" has been bastardized into it's present incarnation to know that the "Death With Dignity" concept is nothing more than a precursor to "Death When Taking Care of You Costs Too Much In Time, Effort, And Money". I'm not buying into this, folks. I will decide all quality of life issues. ME, and no one else. Period. Fay A.

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There may be a time when you cannot make decisions for yourself. This has happened to two people close to me, my sister and my mother. If you are unmarried (widowed, divorced, whatever) you need to legally designate someone to make decisions for you in the event you cannot make them yourself. This is called a health care proxy.

Being a health care proxy for someone means that you have been given the power to make life and death decisions for that person, in the event they cannot make decisions for themselves.

I am not ill. Nor is my sig-o. And we are fairly young, and in seemingly good health. However, when family circumstances forced me to become educated in these matters, we had a talk with each other -- and we continue to talk -- about what we wanted for ourselves if we became unable to make decisions about our healthcare, and then we went to the lawyer had each other made health care proxy. I know what he wants and he knows what I want.

Even if you are married, you need to have the talk. Don't assume that your spouse knows what you want. I'd also want to know whether they think they would be willing and able to carry out your wishes.

My local hospital frequently has lawyers give talks about end-of-life legal issues, and they always talk about health care proxies. Perhaps your hospital has similar lectures open to the public. If not at your hospital, then perhaps your local Council on Aging or whatever agency you have that's concerned with the elderly; I think mine also has talks about this stuff too, from time to time.

Cq

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I know about Living Wills and advance directives, and I have made the appropriate arrangements. Death With Dignity has to do with Assisted Suicide. There's a huge difference between no heroic measures to prolong a life that is at it's end, and actively ending a life that someone feels isn't worth living any longer.

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I don't know anything about Oregon's Death with Dignity act, and my reply obviously shows that. Looking back now, I was replying to Fay's last sentence, where she says "I will decide all quality of life issues. ME, and no one else. Period." I just wanted everyone to know that unless you plan ahead, and make sure your spouse or health care proxy knows ahead of time what your wishes are, you may not be able to decide those quality of life issues for yourself.

As for determining the time of your death. I personally believe that everyone has the right to do this for themselves. It may not be legally sanctioned, but if you personally decide that you want to make that decision for yourself, there is no one to stop you. There's plenty of information out there.

A very powerful look at this issue is the Bill Moyers series "On Our Own Terms." You can find out more about it here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/onourownterms/

I was able to check the whole series out of my library.

Cq

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My father died February 10, 1995, of complications following a 7-8 year battle with bladder cancer. Long before his death, he made his feelings known to my mother, my sister, and I, and put those in writing. He did this in our presence, and the presence of his attorney. When he went into the hospital, 5 days before his death, my sister and I, knowing the end was near, went to his doctor and prsented him with this document. My father's doctor then placed a copy in my father's chart, with the initials DNR (Do Not Recesutate) on the outside cover of the chart. One of my father's specific instructions was: "No mechanical means shall be used to prolong my life, to include the use of high levels of Oxygen".

On the morning of the fifth day in the hospital, my father slipped into a coma. In the late afternoon, as we watched our mother sit next to his bed, holding her husband's hand, the man to whom she had been married for 64 years, we came to realize that the time to let go was close at hand. We asked the nurse to call the doctor. He came immediately, and with several grand children present, the doctor explained to our mother, and all present, exactly where my father was in this final journey. My mother simply said that my father did not like being on oxygen (he had been on oxygen for almost 2 years). As the level of oxygen was at 10 liters, the doctor just said, "if that is his wish, I shall grant that". With that the doctor removed the oxygen and 1 hour later my father passed very peacefully, with his family gathered, his wife of 64 years lying at his side, and all of us singing "Alleluia", knowing that God had opened His arms to receive my father.

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