Thursday, February 24, 2011

On life and death

Today in the news there were two stories about how people treat their loves ones at the end of their lives. What ties them together is that the ones dying were unable to give consent. One because of due to advanced cancer and one  because of extreme youth.

The first was a man who administered a lethal injection to his wife who was in extreme pain and suffering from terminal cancer. She was not going to recover so he administered a lethal injection and later gave himself up to police. He is wracked with guilt because, even though he acted out of empathy, they hadn't talk about end of life scenarios. It would be hard to know if you did an action like this for the sufferer or yourself. I've taken a sick dog in for euthanasia. I had to know he wasn't going to get better and his quality of life would rapidly deteriorate - my job to ensure he has a  good life, including a reasonable end of life. I couldn't ask his opinion. I can only imagine how his man feels.

If euthanasia was legal the couple could have gotten some end of life options as part of the treatment discussion. Now he will never know, for certain, whether she would rather have died in peace or struggled painfully to the end.

The other story is also sad. A dying infant, in a near persistant vegetative state. Except there is no doubt at all about selflessness. The parents want to give the infant a tracheotomy so the he can die at home. After the procedure the he would in pain unless medicated and the procedure would do nothing to extend life. Courts have said no (legitimate since this would be on the universal healthcare dime). The lawyer of the parents hasn't read the court decision but can't understand why anyone would prevent a this since the infant is near vegetative. Perhaps because it would cause unnecessary pain and suffering to a life?

Another case FOR euthanasia law. By treating euthanasia as simply a medical treatment; human dignity is retained, lines are drawn. As people who love, we have a hard time seeking past our wants to the needs of others. Sometimes an input from someone not emotionally involved adds clarity.

Links
Adult - http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2011/02/24/ns-liverpool-euthanasia-claim.html
Infant - http://www.vancouversun.com/news/canada/Father+dying+Windsor+baby+says+hospital+treating+like+criminal/4328772/story.html