Monday, February 15, 2010

Multiple Sclerosis and Death with Dignity.

Trevis Gleason asks, at Multiple Sclerosis Blog, if other readers with MS have considered Death with Dignity. Of course, only those residents of Washington and Oregon are eligible for DwD (Montana's Supreme Court declared DwD was not illegal in that state on New Year's eve but access is still a problem there).

I find the many comments to the post to be very telling of attitudes among those who are suffering terminal illnesses and know exactly what their future could look like. They've had to practically consider their health future and accept that their disease is fatal.

It is here, among the elder and terminally ill citizens of this country that I think the future of patients' rights - and maybe, inadvertently, meaningful health care reform - may hinge. As the decadent, autonomous boomers are increasingly forced to think about their end of life care, they could force a new practical, un-romanticized tone regarding death and care choice into the national debate about aid in dying.

Gleason writes:

I can deal with all of the troubles and inconveniences that MS has thrown my way to this point. I have seen many friends much further progressed and still couldn’t see that as a viable option. I must believe that most of those whom chose to end their time had never thought of it either before it ever got that bad.

Could it get that bad?

I am in a very good place with my disease right now. One neurologist, in fact, told me that I was defying the odds and had made real progress. He had expected to see me bound to a wheelchair the next time he saw me? Now I walk without my cane most days. This, I thought, was the best time to talk to my docs about “the end.”

If it were ever to get that bad, I want my doctors, family and friends know what my wishes are. The Terri Schiavo case in Florida brought those kinds of advance directives to the forefront of our minds. For many in far progressed stages of MS this also means Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders to doctors.

I live in the Pacific Northwest of America where, to my knowledge, Oregon is the only state where it is legal to perform assisted suicide, known as Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.
I have had ‘the conversation’ with my docs, and I’m wondering if you have too?

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