Saturday, February 25, 2012


Daily Mirror article

Everyone dies - sooner or later. Yet few want to talk about how they would want to die. Death is still very much a taboo subject. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. Strange, but thoughts of death have been on my mind of late. No, I don't have a death wish, but the subject keeps cropping up.

Just the other day, a friend sent me a request to circulate a prayer to mark World Cancer Day on 4 February. Another shared a video documentary with a powerful message on "Life Before Death". Two weeks ago, the Guardian published this article "Opting for Death with Dignity" by Ken Murray. Do read it. It's food for thought.

In the article Ken writes about Charlie, a highly respected surgeon who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Charlie knew his chances of survival were about 15% at best. So what did he do? He closed his practice and spent his remaining months with his family enjoying life as best as he could. He opted for quality of life at home with his loved ones.

Doctors have seen enough death in the hospital to know how they want to die. To quote from Ken's article, "Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call 'futile care' being performed on people. That is when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on a grievously ill person near the end of life. The patient will get cut open, perforated with tubes, hooked up to machines, and assaulted with drugs. All of this occurs in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a day. What it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist. I cannot count the number of times fellow physicians have told me, in words that vary only slightly: 'Promise me, if you find me like this, that you'll kill me.' They mean it. Some medical personnel wear medallions stamped 'NO CODE' to tell physicians not to perform CPR on them."

I recall seeing my former father-in-law in his final days at the hospital. He was ready to go, but family members insisted on the doctors doing all they could to keep him alive. Would those extra days have made a difference to him? It certainly made a difference in the hospital bills. As far as I could tell, he was barely conscious. Everyone knew there was no point in prolonging his agony. Yet no one except my ex dared to suggest taking his father off the life-support machines. That would be extreme cruelty, grossly inhumane and totally unforgivable. No filial son or daughter would want to be eternally condemned for letting a parent die when he could have lived another day or two, another week or two.

When our time comes, how would we want to go? Quietly without any fuss, in the comfort of our own home surrounded by our loved ones? Or in a hospital bed, groaning in pain, with tubes sticking out from all over our body, and strangers at our bedside? Is life in such a state worth clinging onto?

The answer is obvious, isn't it? Just let it be known in writing so that no one in the family will feel guilty about heeding our DNR order.

A DNR bracelet. In some states in the US, for example, in Idaho, all medical services personnel must honour the patient's health decisions.

Related article (including video):



Pak Idrus said...

When the time comes just let them go in peace. It is best that way. Take care.

இ Baŋäŋaz இ said...

"Would those extra days have made a difference to him? It certainly made a difference in the hospital." Very true. A logical way to Rest Ink Peace. Great post. tQ.

இ Baŋäŋaz இ said...

Watched the 3 videos and liked this very much. "Live Well Die Better" & "When we don't have a quality of life what is the use of living".

Will have to live life to the fullest and then die with no regrets. tQ once again.

Anonymous said...

It's HAPPIER in the 3rd heaven through our LORD !

Anonymous said...

beware of 21-12-2012 !rearipa