If you have a vulnerable person in your life…listen to them when you can…and if they feel hopeless, you’d better be digging for some rather than buying into that yourself…
Here’s what it’s about.
I hope he’ll forgive me…but I feel the need to expand on this excellent blog post of Steven Drake’s at Not Dead Yet, highlighting an article on the Duty to Die crowd’s decision to assist someone in Minnesota in ending their life in 2007.
I’ve not been to an ADAPT event, but I always watch what they do with great interest. For those of us who have issues that keep us homebound much more often, even than others with disabilities…ADAPT stands in, for any of us who cannot leave where we live, whether it’s in an institution, or a medical issue that keeps us inside. An ADAPT activist speaks directly to the danger of assisted suicide to people with disabilities.
Gordie Haug hits the key points:
“‘I oppose any policies and practices that threaten the lives of persons with disabilities,” Haug said, adding that he works with many disabled people suffering from depression.’
Haug said there are treatments and options to ease pain and effectively treat depression, but with Medicaid cuts and tight budgets, Haug worried people may decide it is cheaper to take a life than to preserve one.”
It’s so important for ADAPT, and more broadly PWD’s to have a voice in this, and to put the arguments out there in a secular framework…because those who fear extreme religion, who otherwise might be our allies in this…would be turned off by the religious arguments against suicide, would see our very real three dimensional present concerns about this as diluted if couched in religious terms. And I say this as a person of faith, whose faith plays a large role in my day to day. I live in a country, not in a church, and if I want my country to protect my right to continue to breathe I must speak to power in the language of the country, not the sanctuary.
The absolute need for a support system, people checking in on the person with disabilities becomes clear, because: When someone is driven to decide to want to end their own life, it is vital that an outside eye be there to ask the critical questions:
“Do you feel (or have you actually been told by a medical pro) that there is no medicine, no treatment available to ameliorate your physical pain?
“Do you also feel that there is no help, theraputic or medical,for the emotional downturn you’re in?”
Because the answer to these questions is often, yes, they believe that, but: those are their feelings, their perceptions. Factually,
*there may be help available* that they can’t see because of their depression…help for both should be clearly listed, available and a path to access to treatment searched for…by family and friends, if there is no professional support such as a social worker knowledgeable about options.
And, most of these “Final Exit” people are able-bodied…are they not?
I don’t pretend to speak to the unspeakable, the patient who has had an infection migrate to the part of the brain that can turn a pain signal off and deactivate it, or, patients who in the midst of ostensibly good medical care scream in pain for three days straight and morphine, etc are completely ineffective.
I’m speaking for those persons with terminal or debilitating chronic conditions with incredibly severe pain, for whom there *is* an answer, and for whom that answer is never presented.
I think Final Exit people once saw someone in severe, terrible pain, and fell into the default able bodied argument. “I could never live with/like that.”
Yes, but that’s *their* belief. *their* idea…from a perspective, perhaps of never having been through it…
They themselves aren’t in pain yet. How in the **** do they know how they would react, and why do they think imposing their perception on a vulnerable person is compassionate?
We cost money. HUD, (housing), Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.
We commit the cardinal sin of costing the country money merely by existing. I’m committing that particular sin right now. I’ll admit it troubles me. I have a great deal of internalized shame that I’m unable to work. If any Duty to Die advocate, medical professional, hospital bean counter…lets the motivation to save money be *any part* of the mix of deciding to help someone end their own life…
That devalues any lives but the most productive and healthy right on down to disposable…their inherent addition to the planet just by being here dismissed.
it is my belief that assisted suicide should never have become law.
never been enshrined by lawmakers with force and precedent…as it did in Oregon. Because the dangers of seeing us through a balance sheet or not seeing the help for physical and mental causes of the wish to end one’s own life are out there right now, and they have more power because there is a law somewhere that allows it.
Regarding Jack Kevorkian, and the pending HBO movie.
If I revise my present dnr to state that sometimes withdrawal of nutrition and hydration is fine by me…(which I doubt I’ll do)…I’ll hope that good palliative care and hospice or other will be in attendance. Three guys will have to say “Look no thinking process at all….”
I applaud some of his facebook fans for saying they have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies.
I would take it further.
Everyone has a right to decide on this issue. They also have a right not to be coerced into one decision or another by medical persons, predatory or misguided ‘friends’ or family members, or by a credentialed physician with homemade tools that he has to use in a van.
Pacino as Kevorkian says he’s doing this “to make a point.*
I believe it was either Steven Drake or Diane Coleman of NDY that wondered ‘aloud’ in print, why the suicidal wishes of able people are seen as clearly irrational, causing crisis lines, law enforcement, shrinks etc to leap into action…
(Get them off the ledge! Don’t let them jump? They’ve overdosed! Stomach pump! ETC)
But when a person with an impairment/illness or disability expresses these things…it’s seen as rational.
The pressure, subtle and slow, perhaps motivated by a genuine desire to ease suffering…begins in earnest.
I hope, even for those on the opposite side, those who see Kevorkian as some great hero, would take care to ask the person who had asked for death due to extreme physical suffering…this simple question:
“If your physical pain could be managed for a little while or a longer time…If you woke up with the same illness but a great decrease in the pain caused by that condition…would you decline days weeks months more , and choose to die now?”
Are you saying that you want to die, literally, or are you unconsciously saying that, when what you are really crying out for is relief from pain?
Those are the corollary questions that anyone involved in end of life decisions *have* to ask the patient or patient’s rep before I’d feel safe. Before I’d be quite clear that this is the true wish of any individual patient.
and, either way the patient chooses…their wishes should be respected by the doctors and nurses and/or hospice folk charged with their care.
Have the discussion. So it’s your wish that is respected…not a beneficiary, not a relation, not a friend, not someone offering their aid…to make a point.
And, last but not least. read this
“right to choose.”
When slogans become code words, the code words can then be misused to advocate for something else entirely.
Read the article. It’s disturbing.
And yay for the Russian moms of kids with disabilities who spoke up.
Note to Sarah Palin: Those moms from the country you can see from your house are great examples of advocates for kids with disabilities.
Via the new website “Better Off Alive.”
and “right to die” issues….over at Feministe, Bint of My Private Casbah gives a glimpse of her life now…and opens up the discussion
Over the past eleven months or so, persons close to me have used words about me that they’ve never used before.
It’s all been done in allowed joshing or polite discussions so I’m not angry about it.
“Stubborn,” has been said of me before, so it doesn’t count as new.
“Opinionated” doesn’t count either, because it’s been said before.
“Ham” or “High Verbal” same notation.
Here are the new ones:
And I have to fight the notion to run back to those that I really want approval from, that used those words, and backpedal on items that seem to make sense to me, socially or politically that they oppose.
The decision to go to war in Iraq forced me to actually pick a side, become a partisan leftist…I was moving that way, …but the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong reasons….etc etc etc.
I oppose the political and religious right for more reasons than will fit on this page. Read the archives. I’m no neocon’s friend.
And, even those who stand on the same side as myself, well, my attitude is distasteful to them as well because:
I oppose abortions of convienence by wealthy people so they can avoid the trauma of having a disabled child. That’s the only choice I can find that I do oppose, but I do, and remaining silent or disavowing that opinion because many strong smart feminists say they don’t agree…can’t anymore sorry.
I’m no environmentalist. When *people* aren’t losing jobs and homes due to bad governance, bad wars, bad economic policy and a few outright evil people, *then* I’ll save the Grand Canyon, or the neighbors dog.
(Update 3/19/2006) When I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. The clock is ticking on the environment a lot quicker than I realized. Still aint my priority, but it damn sure needs to be someone’s in the next decade. CBS News won’t let me link, but they have the story tonight.
Death with Dignity, isn’t, if the disabled are the ones pressured most often and most inimically by economic or famillial interference to sign the advance directive, right here please, thank you.
Because, Good Lord, people with disabilities are invisible enough. And we’re finding out that the Internet means we have quicker access to attitudes as well as information. So we’re finding out the depth of the (instinct?,habit?desire? prevailing societal bias?) to “make them go away”
We saw the outrage and public outcry last summer when someone was mistaken for a terrorist in London and shot.
When a man with multiple disabilities is mistaken for an escaped prisoner and shot, there’s a small blurb in the local paper. That’s it.
When children and civilians are dying in a war that many many people have questions about, there’s activism and concern
When children with HIV or chronic ilness need a feeding tube to survive they’re told in a media covered story that their survival consists of abuse of the Medicaid system.
Or, a professor with disabilities that has been teaching long term…gets asked to step away from lecturing as a probable precursor to an attempt to fire them.
Or the piece of the abortion issue that the right would like to exploit and many on the left support.
The idea that the right to choose isn’t just about choosing to give birth, but choosing what kind of child to give birth to…
Yeah, rigid,nuts, and crazy. That’s the new me all right.