Euthanasia/Spirituality - page 11

I am a member of this board, but rarely post. I have a few questions that I would like to ask. How many of you believe in Physician Assisted Suicide? I believe that a patient should have that right... Read More

  1. by   Jojo ford
    As a Student Nurse I was asked to explain to younger students how I knew not to press the Arrest alarm when I found a younger male patient dead. We were there for our first forays into a ward. How do you explain an understanding than can only come from the Holy Spirit?! A few years later I watched an RN (I was still a student) disconnect life support on a male with Malaria. Then I watched a man with terminal cancer become distressed because he was denied the right to refuse morphine. He wanted to stay lucid in his last couple of days to be able to talk to his wife and children. I was fortunate to be able to develop a strong sense of ethics during my student years by being exposed to a wide variety of circumstances relating to death, expected, wanted or not.
    Humanist economic forces drive the increased push for commitment to supporting Voluntary Euthanisia. In Holland where it is legal the safe guards and strict protocol to ensure it is not abused has already become eroded and this comes from the mouths of locals.
    Does anybody remember the movie "Logans Run"? The Ageist views that state the elderly represent a threat to economic stability and the typical "Quality of Life" argument used to justify Euthanasia as an acceptable solution is unacceptable.
    My brother had Renal and Bowel cancer with Bony and Cerebral metastases and he refused to take morphine until the last few days. He died on September 8th, 2001
    We were able to talk and console each other and most of the grieving was finished before he died.
    I am please tor ead so many replies that indicate there are plenty of Nurses who have faith and can share their spirituality with their clients and colleagues.
    I will never Accept that it is appropriate for someone else to assist in pre-empting natural death. Here in Queensland we have an Advance Health Directive which allows individuals to decide what measures are to be taken to sustain life and that is the best way to protect self determination.
    And pain relief has ever been the bane of health care worker because we try to dictate to others what they need or want.
    Peace to all and God will guide.
  2. by   ruthless
    hi fellow nurses - my first time on here. i am a very strong advocate for euthanasia - but in saying that i am also very wary that permitting this to occur in legislation requires very careful and considerate thought to minimise any potential abuses that those against euthanasia would warn about. I do not consider euthanasia to be unethical as i can think of many cases where the individual has desired it and it would have allowed them to do it their way surrounded by those they love - not in the healthcare systems way!!. I am watching with great interest two cases here in Australia involving individuals who have taken their own lives because their quality of life had deteriorated to such a low point. One of these had MND - and because euthanasia was not allowed - she had to unnecessarily end her own life much sooner before she lost the ability to use her arms. She spoke publicly on national TV had to do this alone because if anyone had been present they could have been charged with aiding and abetting a suicide. Do you think this is a dignified way to die??
    In short i just wish to say that - I respect your choices and feelings about the matter - but when the time comes - can you please respect and support mine. thanks. i'll get off my soapbox now!!!
  3. by   Jojo ford
    Thank you ruthless for your honesty and I accept that many people feel that euthanasia is a way to dignify dying. It is our contact with the dying and infirm that we learn about compassion.
    It is those that live on that lose when natural death is pre-empted. Euthanasia will always be an offence in the sight of God and I for one cannot support it and in fact actively work to consider the long term implications.
  4. by   wolfox
    The majority of posts opposed to euthanasia cite "ethical" positions as your reason for opposing physician assisted suicide. On the other hand those of us who are in favor of physician assisted suicide speak from humanistic responses to physical reality. Not to diminish the importance of ethics to each person, ethics are malleable, human contrivances. What is ethical one day is unethical the next and what is ethical for one person is unethical to the next.

    If you think it's unethical to dance, wear lipstick or have an abortion, then please don't. If you think that a member of the health profession should never, under any circumstances, assist in helping an individual to carry out their own last wishes, then I hope that you are not there if I should contract certain illnesses or injuries.

    From a humanistic perspective, I believe that it is my right to determine under which circumstances that I would not like to live. It is also my choice that my money be left to my son-not squandered on paying someone to wipe my a**. Most importantly, I think that it is my right not just to leave these decisions or even criminal actions to my family-but that I have the right to contract with someone who understands the course of my disease and can make a guilt-free and objective decision about when I have exceeded the quality of life as I have determined it. I don't want my son to have to decide when it's time to put a pillow over mommy's face. If I were to contract an illness that would eventually prevent me from enjoying anything that I believe gives life value to me- and I have determined at what point that is. I want to know that a professional has determined the optimal dosage and medication to end my life.

    Again, if this is against your ethics, then don't participate. But, I feel very strongly about how I want to face my own death.
  5. by   ruthless
    thanks jojo
    i guess I would just like to see that this whole idea of euthanasia be brought out into the open and be offered -NOT AS A REPLACEMENT FOR - but as an additional option for those who are either terminally e.g. metastatic Ca or hopelessly ill e.g. MND sufferers. It is fundamentally and primarily about offering and respecting choice - as in all other facets of human life. Death should not be treated any differently. I understand and respect your beliefs, and I truly hope your faith carries you through.
    I too have lost family members to Ca - one of these being my mum and I guess this is when it really drives this issue home. She actually had a wonderful death - the way she wanted it to be - with all her family present. She did not desire or request euthanasia -not because of any spiritual beliefs though - she just didn't want it, but I thought if she had and it had been refused her - it would have been terrible. On theother hand, i nursed a terminally ill cachextic patient with metastatic bowel Ca in intractable pain for whom was begging for it - he wanted to die with his family present. He and the family did not want terminal sedation - he wanted to go then and there - but that was their only option. I now have seen this time and time again. They too had done their grieving - they were ready to let go at that point. the greatest empowerment and respect that could have been offered to this patient would be to have let him go then and there - not drug him up to the eyeballs and sit and wait for him to die (5 days later). They were devastated by having to watch him die like this - which is an example of how very different from your perceptions of how it can be.
    I think we could agree that the difficulty is is that there is no one perfect solution. For example, what happens for those that don't share in your beliefs or for whom palliative care is not an option - or does not meet their needs. It is scary territory I guess we will never get consensus on this issue and there is no perfect system which we could say with 100% certainty that if euthanasia were to be legally allowed - there would not any abuses of it. When you throw humans into the equation - you are bound to make errors and mistakes!!,- but also to make potentially great leaps for human kind. To do nothing and just bury our heads in the sand for those that need/desire it would prove be a greater diservice.
    In closing, when my time comes I don't know whether I will/will not have a choice or say in it, - but if I do then please let me decide. I will do the same for you. thanks
  6. by   renerian
    Wolfox nicely put........

  7. by   ldymedc
    Very nicely put Wolfox. I have a strong faith as well, but I also feel that God gave us a brain for a reason, my feeling is that it is to be used. I can not imagine that simply because we have been able to develop technology to extend life that we MUST use it, and that if we have the ability to end suffering...i.e. with pain control or with peaceful death, that we should not.

    The hardest part of this job, and of this life, is to watch someone you love suffer, and to watch family members struggle with the vision.
  8. by   wolfox
    Thanks ladymdc...I trained as a student in one of the top cancer hospitals in the country and was awed by what we are technically capable of doing but also horrified at some of the tragic suffering it causes. I also worked at hospice (with many CA pts) and know that many of those deaths were much more dignified and pleasant, costing the patient only a few years or monthes of life as opposed to getting treatment.

    I saw that as health professionals, sometimes the greatest contribution to the ill and their family is admit that we have no power over the inevitability of death and to use our knowledge of medicine to end suffering. Many times all that means is that we titrate medications for comfort. But we also need to realize that in some cases just titrating MSO4 is simply not adequate
  9. by   ohbet
    wolfax,Thank you for your realistic report of the limitations of our medical science and interventions,which helps to oppose those with the illusion that all human suffering can be eliminated with enlightened medicene.
    There is no rational reason in the world why anyone should have to watch their loved ones suffer,if this suffering soul chooses he should be given the assistance to leave this world in peace,and comfort.
  10. by   ohbet
    JoJo-Euthanasia an offense to God? Well Ive heard that before,along with other mis-guided views of God, based on biblical texts which are chosen one sidedly and taken literally, which sees God as the creator who simply exercises sovereign control over human beings,his servants; their unconditional lord and owner,their abosolute ruler,lawgiver,judge and basically also executioner. But not God as the father of the weak, the suffering ,the lost, who gives life to human beings and cares for them like a mother, God of the covenant,who wants to have humans beings,in his image, as free,responsible partners..
    Do you think if Jesus returned today and took up this argument he would argue for the intolerable sufferings of a terminally ill patients kept alive on drugs?
    Last edit by ohbet on Sep 6, '02
  11. by   VivaLasViejas
    I'm one of the few Oregon voters who did NOT approve of the assisted-suicide initiative, and I still don't. I don't believe we human beings have the right to decide when it's "time", and I fear that, with health care being all about the almighty dollar, the "right to die" will soon become the DUTY to die for the poor, the elderly and others who are seen as less valuable to society.

    However, my heart aches for people like my 79 YO resident who has had several massive CVAs and cannot move, speak, eat, or even breathe on her own. She has a feeding tube, a trach, and a catheter. And she is being kept alive by a daughter who absolutely refuses to believe that she will not live forever---in fact, she's a full code. I just sent her to the hospital again tonight after she became unresponsive and started filling up with fluid; no sooner had I notified the daughter than my DNS informed me that the woman had called protective services on us for "allowing" her mother to get into that condition. Everyone from the doctor on down has tried to explain to her that Mom is not going to be with us long, and out of kindness we should permit nature to take its course, but she is totally deaf to the idea that her mother is dying and continues to insist that everything be done to save her.

    For what? To lie in bed and stare at the same four walls day in and day out? To never again be able to experience the pleasures of a good meal, go for a walk, or even just change positions when she wants to? My own daughter works in the office at my facility, and I feel so fortunate that she can see every day why I chose to be a DNR myself when I was only in my late 30s. She sees this poor lady whose body has betrayed her one time too many, and whose only reason for living is a daughter who's too selfish to let her go. Thank God my child will never do that to me!!

    Again, we don't have the right to take a life....but to actively interfere with the natural dying process, once set in motion, is sheer cruelty.
  12. by   tiredernurse
    BBelle, thank you for this post. A subject I am very interested in. I recently had to end the life of my beloved dog who meant more to me than most humans. It damn near killed me but I think it is an act of love. As nurses we see too many poor souls who's bodies have given out. They don't want to live like that and it is unfair to prolong their suffering. Some may say it should be up to God, but I wonder how He feels about feeding tubes and other indignities we impose on people? I could cite many examples of these indignities but I'm sure you have your own. I just think human beings should be allowed to chose. As far as an afterlife goes -- you betcha I believe in it. Have you ever seen a television show called "Crossing Over with John Edward"? I came across this by accident one day and was amazed. I have always believed in God and Heaven but my idea was abstract at best. This guy has convinced me there is not only an afterlife, but not to fear it. This program has been a huge sense of comfort for me during a prolonged grieving period. I have discussed these things with patients and families BUT only if they ask and are receptive. I would never think of imposing this on someone who wasn't willing to hear it.
  13. by   micro
    Have stayed away from this thread for awhile purposely as it can be an emotional, and difficult issue to discuss. As a professional nurse......death is as much about our practice as is all part of the process.....and so much suffering that we see and attempt to alleviate.

    But want to share a bit.....keeping confidentiality in mind....
    Last night, I stayed over to help(lo-staff) on thirds. And also a patient expired. It was an expected death, DNR, comfort care, family at bedside, all family in agreement with the pt.'s wishes.
    But still so sad and so hard to see life end(at least in this form) and the deep sadness of the ones words or anything else to make it better, but I feel that somehow I helped make it better for the family......
    Nursing is more than the technical side(sorry another thread, I know).....but just needed to talk about the emotions of a patient dying and the emotions that it brings up for all involved. I always say, I stay detached.....but I cry, dream about and take it all into my heart......
    ramblin' on micro,
    thx for listening
    love to all
    Last edit by micro on Sep 13, '02