dispensable? | today’s thoughts
Yesterday I wrote about the dilemma of being a senior citizen during this pandemic. The issue is about ending lives in order to focus more care on younger people. As much as I despise pitting older people against younger people, the dilemma is real. A reader left a comment based on her own experience. Here’s a slightly revised version of my response.
Thanks for this comment. I hear your dilemmas, some of which are my own as well. I’m fairly clear about end of life decisions when we’re in our ‘normal’ mode (whatever that is!). If the issue is about doing “everything we can to extend life,” without meaningful markers to let us know what we’re after, or when we’ve arrived, I have no desire to extend my life.
I watched one of my sisters die of ALS — according to her own clear markers. They had nothing to do with the ventilator that helped keep her alive for ten years. They had to do with a simple question only she could answer. Am I still able to communicate (by any means possible) with my family and friends? If not, give me comfort care and fluids, but no meds or liquid food through my feeding tube.
Nonetheless, this coronavirus pandemic has shaken my confidence in nearly all my carefully worded directives. Right now I’m thinking that, with regard to the current pandemic, the marker might be the need for a ventilator. Then again, I haven’t put this in writing, or communicated it to those who will need to speak with and for me. I don’t believe that fighting death at all costs is helpful or fair to others. As a Christian, I believe Jesus died ‘voluntarily.’ I do not, however, believe that his decision was without angst or fear.
Your last line is so important: “However, we need to keep asking the questions to stay in the moment and on the right path with our faith in our Creator.” To that I can only say Amen! Not an easy path. I pray you’ll find some clarity for the present moment in history.
Please feel free to add your voice to this conversation.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 March 2020
Image of social distancing found at nytimes.com
If the time comes – and a certain degree of emphysema add a bit to the debit side – I think I will just accept what the triage doctor decides.
But I’m definitely not letting it worry me. Not too much anyway.
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Thanks, John. Given your health system in Australia, your plan sounds sane. From what I’m reading and hearing over here, our health system is so overwhelmed by this pandemic that life and death decisions are being made on the ground, running, due to lack of clear leadership, foresight and planning.
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I would say something about comparisons between our two countries but I won’t. I trust you will keep safe.
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Thank you. On both counts.
Dear Louise. Yes we do have a good health system. But God is good. My father told me once (he was a true believer) that he was not scared of death but he was scared of dying. He died of a sudden heart attack with about 2 minutes warning. Very hard on the family, but a blessing for him.