Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some Questions for Us -- From Jack.

Amber Wolleson, MD, reviews "You Don't Know Jack" for Pallimed and asks the right questions, to which I add some of my own:

He pleads a sympathetic case for his cause. The terms he uses are ones that we would be familiar with: death with dignity, quality of life, end suffering. He speaks about why must someone make the decision to have their feeding tube removed and die slowly when we could just end things quickly, humanely. Who are we as doctors to make someone go through that when we have the ability to spare them?

Why is it so easy to paint Kevorkian as a buffoon, a lunatic, and a murderer?

One statement I found interesting: "terminally ill is not a definable term". I would love to hear what everyone thinks of that.

The importance of the question is undeniable. Death with Dignity laws rely on the definition. Yet we work hard to believe in miracles -- or at least miraculous recoveries -- when we personally face loss. Is this not the area where the unquantifiable variables of medicine and the unknowable aspects of the human body are most profound?

I wondered when I started watching the film how the story would be slanted. It was clearly pro Dr. Kevorkian. I was left wishing for more balanced view of the issues. I felt those against what he had done were vilified and painted as overly religious. (I know very nonreligious people who are against assisted suicide.) I have always seen this as a very complex issue. To just get one side does not do it justice. I was left feeling a bit like the media was trying to manipulate my views rather than just trying to entertain me or even educate me. I would like to see a palliative care perspective. Is death all we have to offer?

What fear and bias against death -- the existence of which often impedes a good death -- causes us to ask that question with such humility? Is death all? When it comes it is everything. For everyone involved.

One line in the movie describes Dr. Kevorkian as "the last doctor you'll ever need". My thought was, does that describe me too?

And if it does, is there a problem with that?

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Blogger Sandi Pniauskas said...

the quote "until you have walked in my shoes..." is an accurate reflection of the many who advocate for assisted-suicide. 'We' allow ourselves to judge others based on what really, is the important question. As a cancer survivour, there is very little which I have not personally witnessed. I have known patients who had planned their own deaths. I hsve witnessed patients pleading with their 'god' to die - my friends, in fact. I do my best as one human being not to judge the decisions of those who suffer - unrelieved suffering. One of the most common issues described by cancer patients is that they do not want to die in pain and yet there is an extreme amount of unresolved pain in these patients. These are the issues which nightmares are made and of which I recall only too often.

April 27, 2010 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Ann Neumann said...

Hi Sandi,

Thanks for coming by and for writing. Well said.


April 27, 2010 at 12:23 PM  

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