Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jack Kevorkian

Dear Justin--I know this is off your beaten path, but I am constrained to note the passing of a great civil rights hero, Jack Kevorkian, who had a better working knowledge of the Bill of Rights and the philosopy of liberterianism that  a whole lot of the stiffs out there.  He went to prison in his crusade to get the government out of just about the most important decision an individual can make: when his life will end.

I wish all humankind to be free from constraint. . . and I wish that especially for my/our dear lawyer friend J. Therefore being free myself but  not free from the constraints of friendship and affection, by my free choice, I am posting this note from J .  We all have varying views and opinions on "matters of consequence" and at times we differ strongly but that ought never get in the way of or sever the bonds of friendship.  I would be bored to death if everyone here and everywhere else thought, felt. acted the same as I do.   Perish the thought, even.  LOL.  I shudder at the imagined room full of  me!  sheeesssshhhh. . . ;-)

         ~~~~~~  Justin 


Gary Kelly said...

Yes, JustinO, variety is indeed the spice of life. And if the conformists ever get their way, they'll realize it too.

GreginAdelaide said...

A room full of Justins....I could think of a lot worse things, it is a real pity there aren't more of you .... and even though it would be tempting...I don't mean that in a sexual way, just to be clear on that.

Jim said...

Dr. Kevorkian will be better appreciated in the future for the work he has done to enable individuals to die with dignity. It will take time for us to grasp his true intentions.
Have a great weekend friend.

J said...

Justin--Please stow the self-deprecation. I couldn't imagine a more stimulating dinner party than one with Jack, you and the rest of Our Gang.


JustinO'Shea said...

Yes, yes, d'accord, would it be fun! ;-)
Much much fuss and annoying self-righteousness has passed over and thru the "halls of justice". . with various zealots waxing loudly against physician-assisted suicide. .
Let's not repeat it here. . .

Publicly there is much hypocrisy. Anyone who has looked twice at our care of the dying. . .often called "palliative care" . . .realizes that doctor-assisted death is practiced regularly. Medications are rightly given to sick people to alleviate pain and to keep them comfortable. Gradually the dosage is increased as the pain mounts staff and family knowing full well these medications are bringing on the death of the patient.

In controlling the pain one of the effects of the drugs. . morphine and the various opiods. . is to slow down bodily functions which cause the termination of life.

With advanced directives and 'living wills' the individual can designate certain procedures not be done as with "Do Not Resuscitate".
One may choose to withhold nutrition and hydration which will bring about the death of the person.

These are "Death with Dignity" practices which a person may choose for himself and determine the time of death.

This is an area people ought to discuss with one's spouse, family, heath care executors appointed by the person himself, and most certainly with one's primary care provider.

I know of a person who has discussed things like this with his MD and listed things/conditions which he would hate to happen to him. His caring doctor gently replied "I would never allow those things to happen to you." Both understood and respected the decision made that day. Simple words, good understanding, peaceful plans agreed to so very simply.

Unfortunate all the hooting and hollering which overshadows "death with dignity".

~~~ justin

Gary Kelly said...

Well said, JustinO. I'm impressed.

J said...

Dear Justin--The hypocrisy of all of the hand-wringing about assisted suicide is that doctors do this all the time and lose no sleep over it. I remember reading a moving account of the death of a prominent surgeon and faculty member of the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washingonian Magazine. This man was dying of lung cancer and he actually diagnosed his prognosis, having ordered his chest x-ray and seen his death sentence in a light box. On the last day of his life he struggled to breathe until finally one of his colleagues on the faculty watched his suffering and told him that he could give him something that would "ease the pain". With his last act of his sentient mind he nodded that he wanted this relief. He was administered a dose of opiate that killed him.
Two professionals with their minds intact realized at that instance that this was the only rational way out. Jack made these decisions as open and honest transactions, but the hypocrites decided to lock him up rather than acknowledge what was happening every day in real life. I watched my mother draw her last breath early from pneumonia because she was afflicted early from Alzheimer's Disease. Were she with us at the end she would have heartedly approved. Her last sentient remark to me was, "This is outrageous!" She wouldn't have rationally tolerated her situation for a New York minute, so her children allowed her to die swiftly of pneumonia without antibiotic intervention. I'll be damned if any civil servant has any business intruding into this process.

Stew said...

As some of you know, my mother passed just a couple of weeks ago. With the guidance of hospice and her living will in hand, we made the decision to help her along. To listen to her calling for her mama and crying in pain was way too much for any of us. So we had to let her go.

I had the good fotune to know Dr. Jack years ago (just before his jail time). He made a practice of documenting everything. That included taking photos of the patients as things progressed. In my former buisness, we made pictures faster than anyone else could and my store was just a few miles from his home. He was always a kind and generous man. Nowhere near the monster that the media made him out to be.

His work will be more appreciated in the future as Justin has pointed out. And his image will be that of a hero.

JustinO'Shea said...

Credit where credit is due. JIM made that observation about Dr K. ;-)

You sharing about your mother was touching...again. I guess such is the Ying - Yang of loving living. dont you think?

Gary Kelly said...

When we have our terminally ill pets "put down" to relieve them of their misery, it's considered a humane act of kindness.

Where's the consistency? Silly question, I know, cos humans are never consistent.

gp said...

Kevorkian didn't have the training in psychology or medical ethics to justify involving himself in the numerous end of life decisions that he participated in. From the many accounts about him that i read, he seemed to have a morbid obsession with death.

That's not to say that there shouldn't be some humane process available to people whose lives have become intolerable. But it doesn't make sense to me to think that assisted suicide is the proper "solution" for someone suffering from treatable clinical depression (for one example).

JustinO'Shea said...

Good points here, GP. Thanks for raising this.
For those more familiary with Kervorkian and his techniques, were these norms he followed about the nature of "health extremes" in patients? Like I'd hardly imagine he used "physican assisted suicide" for normal, everyday aches and pains. . .or esp for clinical depressions.

Didn't he intend his services for those in end-of-life medical situations?

In the day-to-day care of ailing, terminal diseases where types of palliative care are in use, administering opiods and/or others meds to alleviate pain are not used. . .say like aspirin and tylenol. The severity of the disease-caused pain must ethically be taken into consideration, etc.

These methods, I should hope, are used only in extremis/last resorts. . .when other treatments have be applied. . .and to no relief, etc.

Does anyone know more than I have indicated here? Please share if you do. . .any and all comments are helpful to gaining knowledge and promote discussion.

Thanks, GP.


Coop said...

I still can't understand why people are not allowed to die with dignity in the face of a terminal condition.

As gp said; it should be a last resort when someone is having the life sucked out of them.