Thursday, March 24, 2005

THE QUALITY OF MERCY

I'm restless today. I keep trying to get some work done, but I keep checking up on the Schiavo status. I've told myself that I am going to get off the computer and get the house back in order, and organize the papers for the 2004 taxes, but I keep returning to Blogger, and writing another post.

While checking out my Stats, I found this link to Tom McMahon's page. He says:
Ironic, isn't it? In this country a condemned man gets a Last Meal of whatever he wants -- steak, lobster, you name it. So the only thing you can conclude is that mass murderers have more rights than Terri Schiavo. But that's not the worst of it. If a demented disk jockey were to attempt to stage a wacky radio stunt that involved starving a bunch of small rodents, he would be run out of town on a rail. In this country, even gerbils have more rights than Terri Schiavo.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. As a Catholic, I am obligated to fast (2 1/2-meals, 1 full meal, no meat). It always seems to be a long day. Everywhere I go, I am tempted by low-cost and very yummy specials.

I am wrung out. The funeral took a lot out of me, and to return to Cleveland, with the Schiavo deathwatch, is draining me. No matter what the outcome at this point, I don't see a good result from the process. The rights of women and disabled people have, once again, been eroded. The Death-Lovers gloatingly raise the banner of "choice".

Folks, it isn't HER choice that triumphed, it was HIS. And that's getting to be more and more common. Dr. Kevorkian's patients are disportionately women:
most of the Kevorkian women were not diagnosed terminal and had not been complaining of severe or constant pain. We see conditions like breast cancer (for which there is now great hope), emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's (a condition that usually burdens relatives more than the people who have it). Reading the case histories it is clear that many of these women's lives were messy and unattractive. But in all-too-typical female fashion, the patient often seems to have been most worried about the disease's impact on others.
Women are being persuaded off this Earth to keep from being a burden.

I mentioned that my dear mother-in-law died last weekend. She had, on numerous occasions, flatly stated that she did NOT want extraordinary measures taken. She had cared for elderly women (her mother, and her mother-in-law) during most of her married life. She fully understood how challenging that care could be, especially when it was accompanied by senility. As a result of her often-stated (and written) instruction, she was given comfort care when she started to decline last week. She had COPD, and had been experiencing considerable panic when she had difficulty breathing. Her condition had been going downhill for several years.

I had to respect her wishes. The family gathered near, and made her end as comfortable and loving as they were able. After, we sent her off in fine Irish style, spending several days re-living the days of her life.

I also have a respiratory condition, asthma. Unlike COPD, it is generally sporadically troubling, rather than a daily concern. The symptoms can be similar. Over time, it may well progress to chronic status. Nonetheless, at this time, I can say that I want all reasonable measures taken to keep me alive, even if I have some diminishment in my mobility or quality of life.

I can only hope that the medical community agrees. In the last week, several other cases have surfaced of people whose doctors took them off life support without the family's concurrence. I fear that we are reaching a point of concern - will ill patients have to fear going into the hospital, lest they be put to death?

Is mankind returning to the days of leaving the ill and infirm on an iceflow?

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