No boundaries, no rules, no restrictions, and no restraints.

 

 

Brooke Hopkins and Peggy Battin, appearing in the magazine last month.

Browsing the web I came across this article:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/magazine/a-life-or-death-situation.html?pagewanted=3&_r=0

 

I’m going to be honest it’s 10 pages so I didn’t read the WHOLE article. It’s about a couple — Peggy and Brooke — who feel very strongly about autonomy and having those advanced directives in place. Peggy has written plenty of scholarly articles and has even testified in court for the rights of others to be able to make their own decisions about EOL. Both Peggy and Brooke have AD’s that state that if either of them are in a traumatizing accident or obtain a chronic illness, they do not want any treatment that would only “unnaturally” prolong the time of death and the dying process(especially if it left them in a vegetative state). They quickly realized that these decisions are much harder to make when you’re facing them head on.

 

While on a bike ride (without Peggy), Brooke suffered a broken neck and had lost the ability to breathe. His EOL wishes were not known and he was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital. Brooke’s life was saved however, he was paralyzed from the shoulders down and continues to live a life with his wife Peggy.

 

We have talked about AD’s this whole semester and how important they are. But what if it came down to that moment where you are in a position to make that EOL decision for yourself? It’s one of those “easier said than done” scenarios. If Peggy was there when Brooke had his accident, the power of Brooke’s life would have been in her hands. She would have had the decision to either tell the paramedics about his AD or not. Brooke’s AD would have let them know not to resuscitate him. From the article I gather that Peggy would have told them about his AD, but situations like this could happen to anyone; Under that kind of pressure, who knows what a person would do? During his hospital stay, Brooke was fully competent and aware of his situation, though he was on a ventilator. He could have very well told the doctors to remove that device. But he didn’t and chose to live out his life. If his wife was there on the day of his accident he might not have been able to make that choice.  

This reminds of the point that it’s never too late to change your mind about your previous AD’s. You will always have that decision and the fear that your wishes won’t be carried out should not deter you.  Brooke chose to stay on the ventilator when his AD could’ve stated to refuse that treatment. It’s your life; No boundaries, no rules, no restrictions, and no restraints.

In an updated article Brooke eventually chose to end his life. This one’s pretty interesting too!

http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/choosing-to-die-after-a-struggle-with-life/?ref=magazine

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Blog #3

Reading this article really emphasized the importance of having some kind of advance directives in place. Dead or Alive your body still belongs to you, and you’ll still have the right to do with it as you please. Making your choices about end-of life decisions known to friends and family, in writing, is one of the best ways to make sure you still have a say about your body. If  there isn’t one in place for you, that can cause a conflict between your loved ones. Everyone will have their own perspective of you and in turn have a different perspective of what you would have wanted. People have the responsibility to make their own decisions regarding end of life decisions. They also have the potential to cut healthcare costs by giving yourself the ability to accept and decline treatments ahead of time. This takes the pressure off of the family and helps reduce the bills left behind. People have a responsibility to complete those advanced directives to save their loved ones the hassle of trying to figure it out and worry about what the deceased wanted.

A patient has the responsibility of letting it be known exactly what they want when it  comes close to the end of their life and their family has the responsibility of making sure those wishes are carried out properly. The patient’s family should respect and support the decision regardless if they agree with it or not. This relieves the patients’ stress and anxiety knowing that their wishes will be carried out.

In the article the author mentions how her mother opted to be stript of all life-sustaining treatments. During this time, her doctors could have been trying to convince her and her family to reconsider or “weigh the options”. Whether this happened in her mother’s case or not, I think the author’s mom did the right thing by  sticking to her guns, and continuing with her requested treatment or lack-thereof. Sometimes doctors may not want to let a patient go either (however, for different reasons than that of the family), and may want to keep on suggesting different treatments that prolong the dying process. This could be a good thing if you’re a person who wants to fight until the end no matter what. However, if you’re just a person who doesn’t want to be more restricted than need be, then this may be a bad thing for you. A doctor’s role in society’s eyes is to save lives, but they also take on the responsibility of whole-heartedly wanting what’s ethically best for their patients and respecting the wishes of the patients. With that being said, a patient and/or proxy has the right to refuse or question any treatment the doctor provides. At the end of the day, decisions should be made based off of what the patient could have wanted or what a proxy to the best of their ability thinks a patient would have wanted.

I understand that nothing is cut and dry, so to make things clearer for your families and doctors when it comes to end decisions advanced directives really smooth things out.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/13/end-of-life-difficulties/1831633/

This is an article that I found at the beginning of the year. Its about a guardianship battle over a terminally ill parent that has a family divided.

Blog 2: Letting Go

When I think of medicine, I think of something that I use that can fix something that is wrong with my body. Alot of the times, I don’t even know what the problem is; I just take an aspirin or ibuprofen, or maybe some cold medicine and antibiotics and call it a day. Whatever I was feeling usually goes away. But what if the medicine I was taking didn’t make my symptoms go away? What if the medicine that my doctor prescribed me didn’t make my symptoms go away? What if all treatments failed to save me from a terminal illness? When medicine can not save my life, I would hope that it will at least ease my pain so I can spend the rest of my days with my family. When medicine fails as a preventative treatment, as a management treatment, and as a life saving treatment, I think it should be used as a relaxant for the patient to ease any pain.

I think that the article touched on an important point: The doctor wants to save your life, you want to see your kids grow up, your family wants to continue to see you around, but at what cost? When is enough, enough? I wouldn’t want to be like the eighty year old woman in the story (who watched her husband die with a feeding tube and a tracheotomy at a hospital) that came to the end of her life at a hospital with unwanted tubes coming in and out of her body and doped up on meds. I DO NOT want that for myself. I will do whatever it takes to save my life while I can, but I will not put my body under excessive stress to do so. I want to enjoy my last days. Even if I’m bed ridden, I’ll still be able to catch up on my favorite TV shows. Anything would be better than lying in the hospital waiting for death.

 

I saved these pictures on my tumblr awhile back mainly because I’m a sap for love stories. However, now that I see deeper into the story I see a woman who tried to save her own life but refused to live unhappily. She was supported and surrounding by those she cared for most and who cared for her as well. God forbid that I develop a terminal illness, but if I did I hope my story is as beautiful as hers. 

Blog 1: True Blood

The death of a main character is always hard for its fans to bear. However, in some instances death doesn’t always mean that the person is gone forever. The scene that you see above is from the series True Blood. In this scene, we see one of the main characters, named Sooki, being held at gunpoint by an intruder. As a shot goes off Sooki’s best friend, Tara, tries to push Sooki away and gets shot in the process. For those of you who don’t know, True Blood is set in a world full of Vampires, Werewolves, and other magical creatures. Because Sooki doesn’t want to lose her friend, she begs a vampire by the name of Pam to turn Tara into a vampire. In this process a person loses their human life and is essentially dead (cold skin, no heartbeat, and no blood circulation), but gains an eternal life — in which a vampire can only die ‘the true death’ if they are burned with fire, walk into the daylight, or staked with a piece of wood. By turning into a vampire, Tara, by the Cardiac Definition of Death is dead.

However, this show revolves around people dying and coming back, as well as people turning into vampires and being able to stay with their loved ones. In this show death is hardly the finale that we think of in today’s society. There are people who believe in afterlives, however once a person loses their circulatory function and their heart stops, they are no longer able to continue to have a life even remotely similar to the one they have left behind. In contrast, True Blood characters have that ability to continue to live their lives after they have been turned, even though it’s a life of the night. This portrayal of death is extremely misleading. In real life no one can choose to have an eternal, earthly life; A person only has a limited amount of time on this earth.

I think this scene is a perfect representation of how alot of people want to hold on to their loved ones for as long as they can. Tara has had bad experiences with vampires and has a strong dislike for them. In the following episode she expresses how she would have rather died a human and doesn’t want to be a vampire. Sooki knew this before hand, and for her own selfish reasons begged for Pam to turn Tara into a Vampire. Sooki didn’t want to live without her friend and made that decision for her. We could also connect this scenario to a person on life support. Sooki wants Tara to stay alive and stay on life support — Tara on the opposing side and her unexpressed wishes to be taken off of life support. This is a recurring problem in America. Loved ones wanting what’s best for them and not what’s best for the person involved. All of these points leave me to believe that America breathes a death denying culture. We have a hard time letting go of people who have passed on (gone to a better place, croaked, died, etc), and in the process we may overlook very important wishes of the person who is most in need.