When given this prompt, I honestly didn’t know what to say, think, or write. I just kept staring at the question, what should medicines do when they cannot save your life? I was not sure how I felt about the question or what it really meant. As I went about reading “Letting Go” by Atul Gawande I starting thinking about what this really meant to me.
Personally, I think that everyone should have their own right to do what they want at the end of life as far as life support and artificial nutrition goes. If it is established beforehand, then proceed as the person wishes. But the question that screams at me every time is, are you really living if you can’t move, breathe, eat, walk, blink, talk, smile, laugh, or be you? On your own that is. Are you really living YOUR life if you are hooked up to a machine that is feeding you and breathing for you? And the more and more I think about it, my answer is no. No you aren’t living, you are surviving only because of technology. For me, I see that as no way fit to live the end of your life, for me, or my family. As hard as it would be to make that decision to take anyone off of life support, I feel as though there comes a point where it is just necessary.
However, I tend to see both sides of everything and every situation in life, which can be both a blessing and a curse. When it comes to letting go of family or another loved one, of course it is hard to just say, stop treatment. It makes it feel so real that you will be losing that person. So I understand why so many people keep their loved ones alive on ventilators and feeding tubes, etc. I understand that they want to hold on to the hope, the hope that tells them that there will be a cure, or a way out. In the end, I tend to go back to the same thing, if it has been weeks with no signs of improvement, then I truly believe it is time to just stop. Let nature take its course, and just say goodbye. Because it isn’t a life, laying there in a bed, only breathing because of a machine.
So to answer the question, what should medicines do when they cannot save your life? I would definitely have to say one thing. I believe that if the medications are no longer enough to keep you healthy and active, then they should be used for making you comfortable at the end of life and keeping the pain away from the dying process. Because no one wants a painful death, so why not try and make it as easy and painless as we possibly can?