Euthanasia

#1

Ontario, Canada has recently (like last week) granted us humans the same rights as most farm animals… that is, if we’re going to die (soon) anyway, and not ‘peacefully in our sleep’, we can now legally seek out a medical professional to guide us through this process. Suicide per se is still illegal (although I doubt that the penalty for this crime will ever include capital punishment :wink: ) but for the unfortunate among us whose life is near its end by such horrific killers as ALS, many types of terminal cancer and all sorts of nightmares that promise to make our last days torturous for both our families and ourselves, there may be an alternative coming soon to a hospice near you and you might not have to keep your intentions a secret anymore making this whole ‘death with dignity’ deal much less arduous for everyone.

You’ve heard of “death by cop” - at least on TV and the news, when someone chooses to force law enforcement personnel to draw and use their weapons rather than face the consequences for his/her crimes. While that ‘solution’ might save the court system time and money and provide the victims of these crimes with a kind of unjustified justice, most police are trained to aim for centre mass when they fire a weapon, so it is rare that someone in this desperate state of mind is subdued and lives to attend his/her own trial.

I tell you the above to ask you this: How would we define “Death by Diabetes”? Suppose you didn’t ‘qualify’ for doctor-assisted-suicide? Suppose your combination of trials and tribulations was not deadly but instead a long and agonizing subsistence of constant pain and angst? And not for a year or two, like ALS, but for 30 years or more? And not ’ with family’ but entirely alone?

What if you’ve been saddled with non-terminal but non-curable spinal degeneration - as in complete loss of disk cushion; and what if you lived your earlier years with some degree of ‘reckless abandon’ and now suffer the consequences of competitive track and field meets before the day of 14" foam landing pads behind the high jump poles? What if your childhood was punctuated with beatings and other violent acts that now make it difficult to breathe comfortably or to fit in with the people around you? What if your foreseeable future was only a deterioration of your current plethora of mental and physical disorders and more unhealable injuries than your average Evel Knievel type?

Doctors work diligently to keep us breathing but not a whole lot of time and energy is directed towards making that breath worth the effort and sometimes I have to wonder just how much pain we must endure before someone considers our suffering much the way we consider the suffering of our beloved pets and service animals. “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” It’s just people who have to suffer forever and we even get to understand/lament the pathetic hopelessness of our condition.

So can anyone hazard an educated guess as to how long and how hard it might be to abandon this losing battle against Type II diabetes? Suppose your A1C was never going to drop under 10 no matter how hard you dieted and how many pills you took? Now that ‘physio therapy’ is no longer therapeutic and even movement in general is soooo difficult, would anyone else really notice if you stopped taking those pills and injections? I wonder how long it would take for one of that myriad of “Complications resulting from Diabetes” to make a head cold lead to terminal pneumonia or angina to result in a myocardial infarction of unrecoverable proportions? Maybe a stroke will ‘do the job’ before I have to put my non-existent family through the caretaker’s ordeal of Alzheimer’s? And without that long-suffering family to take on the care-taking job, why does ‘society’ have to bear the interminable burden of my neediness? I’m not exactly Stephen Hawking, here… just a nobody who serves no real function to anyone else in the world outside of my husband and his cats.
Who’s going to know the difference between ‘poor health’ and ‘skipping meds’? How long would the inevitable take and hard would it be to ‘lose my battle against type 2 diabetes’ if I no longer bore arms against it?

Finally, I wonder how long it will take for this post to be deleted?. Maybe someone will be able to respond to my question before it is deemed ‘inappropriate’.

Heddy Nough

#2

What a very interesting post. Personally I am torn two ways about this. Yes, it would seem very reasonable to shorten our own sufferings like we do for our pets. My mind has gone there many times, wondering what changes life will bring that would possibly be unbearable, and make me wish to not be here anymore.
My personal beliefs about God’s sovereignty and the after-life that I am convinced exists, influence my thinking about this. For me, I don’t feel a freedom to decide when my or another human’s life should be over. And your post brings to my mind the question, Once we start ending lives, where is the line drawn? Who can measure emotional pain, which can be just as horrible or more than physical problems? There are countless things that can dampen or take away our quality of life. To be totally honest, of course I would like to escape certain things that could happen. For sure, this subject demands a lot of self-searching and important questions about life. I don’t think there is an easy answer for this one.

Along these lines, this also causes me to wonder about more subtle forms of suicide, or behaviors pointing towards it but not totally, such as maybe becoming a little self-destructive or careless with blood-sugar, at times when I might fear the future. Such as the thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t be TOO healthy because if I outlive any of my family, I’ll be faced with unbearable loss”…Not sure if this is common, but I know for myself its wrong when I have that attitude. Another thing I’ve wondered about is, those machines the hospitals use to keep people alive as vegetables----Would it be better if those hadn’t been made?

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#3

This topic has been in many a people’s mind, and deleting it serves no one. It’s good to bring it to the surface. That said, it is indeed a loaded multi-faceted topic.
Faith and beliefs in the hereafter aside, there is the undeniable red flags…the “what ifs”.
The most prominent at the forefront, is that assisted/non-assisted killing will invariably get in the wrong hands and lead to eliminating those who become a burden. A choice that can be made by family…and by any powers that be. The parent who has become too much of a burden…the child with too many health conditions…the baby born with undesirable traits…the list goes on and will escalate.
There are options in choosing to not be resuscitated. A living will can include directions re being kept alive at all costs, that differs from assisted suicide.

linda

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#4

Or by the person themselves. This is a concern in the disability community. I read an article a couple of years ago about some twins in a European country who were deaf and were diagnosed with an eye condition that would lead to total blindness. Both chose to go this route, even though their condition was in no way terminal and even though there are many deafblind people throughout the world who live happy lives and contribute to society in various ways. I can’t help wonder if these individuals made their decision due to the reflexively fearful response most people have to learning that they have a disability, without actually researching deafblindness to learn about rehabilitation possibilities and/or giving themselves time to actually live with and adjust to their new condition. There is a lot of research out there about happiness that shows that almost everyone remains happy even after being faced with circumstances that, at first thought, many assume would make life miserable.

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#5

This is a topic that entered my radar a long time ago in a way I never expected. I was in high school when our principle suddenly retired after being diagnosed with Lou Gherigs disease. He went on to be a major advocate and eventually the lead plaintiff (I believe?) in Oregon’s court battles with the federal government over ‘Death with Dignity’. In the end, everyone whose life he had ever touched was proud of him… Changed my thinking on the whole matter.

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#6

I have to say, I don’t like using the term Euthanasia. I only support one type, voluntary euthanasia, commonly called “right to die.” I wish to reserve the right to make decisions about the way I live out my life. But there are other forms of euthanasia that I consider unethical and immoral. Killing people simply because they are sick or different. Killing by withholding treatment (such as what our medical system does at times). These are just wrong.

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#7

I am a gay male who’s partner (now would be considered my husband) 25 years ago was diagnosed with AIDS. His terminal condition was liver failure from chronic Hep B. At a point the medical community said there was nothing else they could because of AIDS and to go home for him to die.
Which we accepted.
He was not comfortable, he did not enjoy his time left, the option was just more morphine. We had several discussions about ending his life. I understood his feelings and the need, but I was not willing to to take the legal risk to assist him.,
He did pass, but it was not peaceful, difficult for the both us.
I have always wished, we could have decided when he would die,
I still,have many fond memories of our time together, just not the final part.

My thoughts.

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#8

Thank you all for your considered responses. I knew it was a ‘loaded’ subject and didn’t really know for sure if or how it would be accepted in this forum. I’m glad it has at least been tolerated, and addressed.

Brian: Euthanasia is loosely defined as 'Mercy killing" or as my Oxford puts it: “The bringing about of a gentle and easy death in the case of incurable and painful disease.” For the purpose of this discussion, I don’t think we’re too interested in the illegal and immoral elimination of a living being because that soul has become a burden on society or any part of their influence. I’m referring to offing your boss to get a better job and/or any number of murderous intent for personal gain that will no doubt be attempted if/when these euthanasia laws become legislated.

As ‘good folk’ here at tuD, we can’t do a whole lot to control or change the nefarious realm of society and for me, I have a problem with watching some of those tales on TV. Even last night there was a premiere of the kidnapping of those 3 girls for 11 years in Cleveland. Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to amaze and disgust me.
And to think that the long standing show called Criminal Minds is almost entirely based on documented FBI cases - human cruelty has been long documented and despised by most of us. So let’s skirt that difficult issue to concentrate on the difficult issue we might know more about … Death by Diabetes.

We have prepared living wills, physical and financial, but those mostly refer to resuscitation attempts. Having a DNR on my health record at this point would be considered frivolous and likely unhelpful in terms of gaining the required respect and compliance to carry out an assisted suicide. And any kind of history in the Mental Health department is going to work against fulfilling this sort of ‘Living Will’.

Maria touched on self-inflicted or self-assisted suicide by such common and legal tactics as smoking and alcohol abuse. Yet those unfortunate smokers who do contract the Big C in their lungs and die in a few months, still reap the kindest of support and well-wishes from a supporting family - and certainly a religious burial, unlike some religions who do not permit those who took their own lives to be buried in consecrated ground. I’ve personally wept long and hard at the ‘untimely’ demise of close friends, some of whom had even quit smoking years earlier or had only co-habited with another smoker - blameless types. It seems that ‘blame’ plays a big part in who can ‘die with dignity’.

I’d rather not get into the subject of religion and what exactly constitutes Gods Will in this matter since we’ve all witnessed injustice in every aspect of our lives - a subject Fraser related thoughtfully. There have been a few movies that have dealt sensitively with the AIDS escalation and the thousands of smart young people who perished horribly while a homo-phobic world looked on, helpless or uncaring or both. I suspect many of us have been touched by that AIDS scourge in the loss of someone we knew and loved. And certainly cancer has left no one unscathed. I can’t help but mix up the terminology and refer to God Swill with some degree of contempt at times.

Also, subsistence and pain are entirely subjective. What I consider intolerable might be a walk in the park for someone else and vice versa. I also think we reach individual tolerance maxima. I do try to ‘walk a mile’ in someone else’s shoes sometimes but often it’s a fruitless effort when the other party has no feet - a relatively common outcome for those of us with advanced diabetes! And my own particular combination of ‘complications’ might appear unbearable to others who deal with One Thing at a time, but I have been fortunate in having a caring partner for 35 years and both of us with a rather wicked (aka bizarre) sense of humour. I’d likely be long gone if it hadn’t been for my somewhat idiotic ‘take’ on life’s frailties. But even that has its limitations and I sometimes find it difficult to find the humour in this ‘condition’ of abject pain and very little medical aid for most of it.

Hubby Dearest is 14 years older than me - pushing 80 - and for the last 3-4 years, he has finally begun to look and feel his age - for the first time in his life, I should add. He has been extremely fortunate to have been a hearty individual and able to outlast most of the harm he smoked and drank himself into. So this recent induction into ‘old age’ has been a real difficult ‘stage’ for him and that has led to his forced withdrawal as MY helpmate. Now it is up to me to ensure HE takes HIS meds and gets to his plethora of medical appointments much as he was for me for the last 25 years. And he does benefit in so many ways from my unpleasant and painful experiences of the last 2 decades. I’m kinda glad in a perverse way that he can make use of my ‘good bad example’, but again, this doesn’t help me. I’m still on my own and even my ‘medical team’, such as it is/was, is retiring. I find I rely on fewer people for more support and that can be too much for them, so I stop asking and I get myself into these dark holes anymore. I just don’t have the strength or support to climb my way out again - which brings me back to my original question…

Who’s going to know the difference between ‘poor health’ and ‘skipping meds’? How long would the inevitable take and how hard would it be to ‘lose my battle against type 2 diabetes’ if I no longer bore arms against it?

#9

That must have been terrible. :cry:

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#10

I’m T1D so I can’t speak from direct experience but reading about T2D here and through other studies, I fear the end could take a lot longer than your tolerance for it. My general impression is that it would be painful and slow, not preferable from many perspectives. Perhaps if you were on dialysis and refused treatment, the end would come more quickly.

I don’t see any easy solution to your concern. I do feel that adults have a right, when faced with a certain and terminal diagnosis, to choose to end their life in a relatively painless and expedient way. I live in Oregon and we have legislation that supports this. But society has not dealt well with this issue. How do we tease out the difference between a non-hopeless medical condition made hopeless by mental illness and a simply hopeless prognosis? This is a tough issue to traverse from the general to the specific.

Separately, your writing and thought process impress me. I’d love to read more of your ideas on the various topics people raise here. Good luck.

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#11

I’m sorry but I don’t think I had mentioned smoking or alcohol abuse. (unless there is another Maria here who posted that I didn’t see)

#12

You didn’t directly mention smoking and drinking, Maria, but your inference was there (I think?)

This self-destructive behavior would likely include some of our many vices like smoking and drinking, n’est-ce pas?

#13

Thanks Terry4. I’ve been here awhile - just not as often or regularly as I would like to be. And unfortunately, in a ‘snit’, I deleted most of my previous messages and blogs before this new website set up. There are still a few bikette blurbs lurking about if you felt like perusing more of my randomly assembled wordage. If I go to my profile, I get a list of all my remaining topics and replies… take yer pick.
WARNING - recommended tuD protocol should limit dosages of bikette blurbs per sitting.

#14

I’ve joked (half-joked?) to my wife that if I started down the Alzheimer path that I’d go jogging. I’ve got cardiac issues. I hadn’t thought about a “diabetes solution”. Going hypo would cause the liver to kick in and I’ve got a fatty liver. Hyper would be the problem of how many Cokes to drink with no insulin. I’m going to see if my endo is willing to have this conversation.

I’d like to echo Terry4: “… your writing and thought process impress me.”

#15

@bikette also won the “TuDiabetes Comedian” award at least once. and if you’ve been here long enough, you know that category would have stiff competition.

#16

I see what you mean. A lot of destructive behaviors cause people to end up in the same type of predicaments. I was thinking more about the mind-set than the outcomes. And actually, whether it be slow suicide through un-healthy food choices (etc) or by drug / alcohol abuse, the motives can really vary from person to person. Anything from just wanting to have fun, to simply being careless, to wishing to die…
What ever happens with this euthanasia, I certainly hope they give people a choice to live if they want to.

#17

Tough subject. Personally, I would much rather die than suffer &/or be a worthless burden for an extended time-frame. I have considered how I would end things in the event that such would occur. However, my Christian beliefs find murder, suicide and therefore euthanasia (very well may also be) mortal sins. Would I instead place myself in a highly dangerous situation that would require God’s choice to keep me alive???

#18

Wouldn’t God know the difference? Suicide by whatever means would still be just that and then you would be involving some innocent party. I’d rethink that one, lol.

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#19

It caught my attention that you had put the word “worthless” in front of burden. I know that us humans in general could tend to view ourselves or others as worthless if the person can’t do things that most others can, but being that you’re a Christian (like myself), I feel that I can say this to you—God doesn’t place our value on what we DO. All humans are worth very much, regardless of how inconvenient or difficult we may be. This reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a woman who was my resident manager at the time. She said my cats were worthless if they can’t catch mice. I didn’t see it that way, still don’t. I told her I have cats because I love them, not for what they can do for me.
None of us want to be anyone’s burden, but life is not only about ourselves, and if any of my loved ones viewed themselves as a burden and I thought they wanted to end their life, I would be devastated.

#21

Sorry Maria - I can’t fully agree with your premise that God or anyone else in a position of authority or ownership, for that matter, determines the ‘value’ of a person based on the criteria you mention - “what we DO”. To me that position would have to exclude many innocent babies who don’t survive infancy. At the other end of the good/evil scale would be people like Hitler who has definitely been judged by the rest of the world based on his actions and not his neurotic-insane mental ‘condition’. I read Mein Kampf and he truly thought of himself as the Saver of the Human Race (or at least part of it ;-). Many ‘conquerors’ and mass murderers in history were later proved or strongly suspected of suffering from major mental illness in their lifetimes. Eg. Napoleon had syphilis when he was “assimilating” many of his conquered lands. Again, ‘it’ all seems to comes back to ‘blame’ more than ‘worth’ IMHO.

I also think the term ‘burden’ is more detrimental by definition than the ‘trade-off’ we humans glean from our pets and/or loved ones in our care. Helping others is more of a responsibility, usually by choice but sometimes not (arranged marriages, many pet rescues or nursing a sick friend or family member back to health or “death with dignity”). As I have been and will likely continue to be a parasite or “worthless burden” to my loved one, I would not expect my honey to view me using that terminology - but only out of kindness - that same kind of kindness that prompted the caregiver to accept this onerous ‘job’ in the first place based on some promise we both made 35+ years ago.

Assisted suicide is so termed because it is still suicide and not to be confused with manslaughter or murder. The only part a doctor plays is administering the ‘solution’ with skill and compassion (and part of his/her job, like the hangman or firing squad) as opposed to less qualified people or the ill person attempting a much more desperate and often unsuccessful method. The medical approach to euthanasia would also leave the deceased in a much more ‘memorable’ state for funeral purposes.

Anyone who has ever seen a person who has used their own desperate means to die generally ends up being a traumatic sight for the person (often a relative - a child) who has the misfortune to ‘discover’ the body. Something they don’t often show on TV is a “DB” from suicidal hanging or gunshot or even injections done badly. The bodies in most ‘murder scenes’ tend to be bloody/gory often enough, but otherwise ‘clean’ and humans tend to ‘evacuate’ when they die suddenly. Hanging by the neck will stretch a person’s neck considerably and present a far different and horrific sight for the poor loved one to find.

If euthanasia is made legal globally, one of the ‘plus’ doors it would open might be to ease much of the moral and spiritual dilemma that would accompany the ‘burden’ of our death after much so much suffering, such as Fraser70 described earlier. Doctor-assistance would hopefully mitigate much of the guilt carried by our survivors, since it is never the doc who makes this euthanasia decision (although MD’s supply most of the information about our ‘natural’ demise if he/she does not help us escape). The patient has to sign a bunch of legal waivers and permission forms before anyone else can carry out what is usually a relatively painful process.

Having a professional to do the dirty deed, again saves a loved one from being asked to end the life of their family member. Doctors require special training to carry out this euthanasia process and as they see pain and death on a fairly regular basis, know more about what exactly is ahead for that patient and have the means to curtail that suffering at their disposal legally. One would think that this legal process would be far better than doing the deed on your own … badly.

Being legal would also make it possible for the ill person to notify his/her family and friends in advance, if they chose to and greatly reduce the amount of guilt and anger in their survivors. I saw a movie about a young gay man dying of AIDS who had a big party with his friends to “say goodbye” and remember him as the “party animal” he wanted to leave behind. Most of us can already pre-arrange and pre-pay our funeral and internment preferences but what a concept it would be if we could PLAN for this demise at its predestined time and allow more loved ones to also plan for the event (no rain-checks, though;-) and truly enjoy the final days/hours of their friend/family member.

I have a lady friend whose 4 children were all born by Caesarian section and she often brags that her children were all born ‘by appointment only’, plus she could then pre-arrange her transportation and packing, babysitting needs to her own specifications prior to her appointed “Day of WReckoning” at a hospital where her own doctor would be waiting for her. I even got her a Happy Labour Day card one time :wink:

I keep picturing the invitation to my “Going Away” party. What kind of invitation cards would you get?
“Retirement” congrats? “Get Sicker Soon”? “Happy Re-Birthday”? “Thanks for the memories?” " Happy Holidays"? What about celebrating “Independence Day”? Easter cards might be a bit presumptuous if you were not expecting the deceased to return, but “Happy Graduation” might work, or at the very least “April Fools!” :wink:
~b

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