Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Who decides quality of life

For Canadians I think one of our favorite topics of conversation is the weather. I think that deep down inside we sort of pride ourselves on what a hearty lot we are, we don’t come out and say it but i do think that feeling sort of a pride in ourselves is there. Cold weather generally doesn’t really interfer to much in daily life, we dress for it. I think maybe I am becoming a “wimpy” Canadian. We are in a cold snap  right now and the temps are in the -30’s and 40’s, take the wind chill into account and some places are feeling the -50’s. It slows things down, we complain but carry on with regular life. Well most of us do. I am finding this cold is really affecting my breathing. Even the short walk from the car to the house about 50 feet and I am panting and gasping. Hey, that is a good excuse to just hibernate in the house and that is what I am doing.

Over the past week or so I have had some very thought provoking messages via email. I am mulling them over in my mind.

I will likely be posting on them once I have really got my head wrapped around the ideas and decide what I think about the issues. I am going to just sort of put them out there and ask for feed back:

1. Science has made tremendous advances, break throughs in the field of medicine. Personally I am very grateful for this, if not for these advances I would not be here today. Question is, have we made as many break through in regard to ensuring quality of life? I know then we get into the whole discussion about who or what determines quality of life which of course is an individual decision. Generally, people do not want to die, myself included in that. Are we ever learning to extend life beyond the point of any acceptable quality being there? I don’t know, what do you think?

2. This one is from a gentleman, who know he is nearing his end and this ties in closely with the first question. Hey, I know you are going to be reading this and I hope we can get some thoughts for you, beyond my own. He has no religious beliefs so his comment is not based on the teachings of any church but more on treating people humanely: “Animals are treated in a more humane manner than are humans. If we see a dog suffering greatly and know there is no hope for a recovery. What do we do? We put the animal to sleep to end its suffering. If you happen to be a person you are not afforded that same humane treatment. No we are forced to sit here endlessly with nothing to look forward to but more pain and suffering. You Christians claim only God can determine when it is we are to die. We should do nothing to speed up that process, suicide. OK, then answer me this, if only God can determine when we are to die, why is it alright for doctors to interfere with what may be God’s will and keep me here? Again I ask for comments please.

There is one more but I think I will just hold off on that. There is already enough here to digest.


4 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Who decides quality of life

  1. simplicianot says:

    The reason why God let doctors help us is so we can fulfill our reason why we are here to begin with.We all have a reason why we are here and until we have fulfilled it we will be here on earth even if we have to suffer.Some people suffer a great deal and yes I too think they should have the option to end their life if so chosen but only if it is really the last option.There are thousands of people laying in th ICU being forced by their family to stay alive while they are on all kinds of machines and their insides are all not working anymore.
    Why would anyone let their loved ones go threw that? This really is a very sensitive subject and I think I will close for now.As always have a great weekend and may
    Bless us all

    I do thank you for replying. I agree with much of what you say. This is a very sensitive subject for many. It is often one of those things we don’t even really want to think about other than in maybe general terms but not in any way that would apply directly to ourselves. I think we should at least give it serious thought, talk about it with our loved ones so that should we ever find ourselves being forced to make such a decision about or for a loved one we do know what their wishes would be.
    This site is hopefully considered to be a safe haven where all can express thoughts with out fear of being judged in any way. Can we discuss it.

  2. Hilary says:

    Hi Bill .. my mother was fed intravenously and thus kept alive for 5 years or so … she asked for it, when she was exceedingly ill in the beginning – soon after her strokes. Why she had the strokes in London so she was able to be stabilised in the Acute Brain Injury Unit before coming down here to a Nursing Centre I’ve no idea – but feel that the reason was so I could learn and gain an understanding of this side of life.

    She did put her faith in God, and her trust in me … and said she couldn’t have coped without me … though she wasn’t obsequious in her thanks … and I didn’t discuss anything that would upset her – but we enjoyed probing history and interesting aspects of life.

    She was a woman who believed … I am a true English person – sort of quiet and reserved in this respect … my time of exploration will come sometime …

    I wouldn’t have missed these last few years … though times have been troubling – we pulled through together …

    All the very best – it’s always interesting to read the posts and comments … Hilary

  3. rangewriter says:

    The journey is different for every individual. In America it is crucial to have your legal documents in order, to have advanced directives that spell out what measures you want, should you become unable to advocate on your own behalf. I find it troubling that we go to extreme measures and expenses to keep people alive long after they would have died AND against their wishes. If the person has a decent quality of life and still wants to be here, then by all means, use every means possible to help. Otherwise, be kind enough to let them go, as you would your beloved dog, cat, or horse.

    But, of course, I’m not the one staring death in the face, so maybe my thoughts don’t hold much weight.

  4. Mel says:

    Boy…….. Good questions, both of them. And of course the answer is the individual’s choice. In the US, we have living wills and advanced care directives. If we’re organized to have that done, then we’ve taken charge of our choices in how we want interventions to look. If we’re not organized in that–other people end up with the responsibility until or IF it’s relinquished back to the family. Makes a good case for having the paperwork done. I don’t want the people I love in that position.

    People do have the right to refuse medical intervention, to stop it or change their providers/provision of service if they so desire. Of course that’s an uncomfortable/unpopular decision…with family and with medical professionals. They want to exhaust every resource–I want to trust folks’ motives in that, but honestly, sometimes I question it. Whose needs are being met, yaknow?
    I ask myself that on a regular basis. “Whose needs are being met here?”. And sometimes I’ve had to rethink my position because I had to admit that it was mine and not the other persons. When we get in that emotional state that accompanies loss or the potential loss of a person we truly love and care about–that question needs to be asked, but we sometimes fail to pause to ask it. Pretty human of us.
    I think that’s why, given it’s our life and our choice to make (and hopefully be honoured) we need to decide things on the flip side of the mess. But–since human beings don’t like to think in terms of death/dying….we put it off for another day and keep moving.

    It’s murky for me, that second question–there’s this fine line. Is it “suicide” if a terminally ill person decides to forego treatment, decides to be ‘done’ and wants to simply go home to their Maker?
    I’d hate to be tasked to determine what’s ‘right’ for someone and attach a stigma to those circumstances. And I certainly will not judge that–not mine to judge.
    There’s a ‘right to life’ and a ‘right to death’, I’d wager. I’ve supported people in their decisions around treatments/interventions or the lack thereof. But I have to admit, there’s this internal struggle every time.

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