Friday, March 25, 2005

Pullin' the Plug

I suspect I'm about to post some rather unpopular advice. However... it is something that needs said.

When the time comes to make the call... you're better off making it sooner, than later.

The body can, and often does, function just fine without the conscience mind. The body, given time, heals. This is a bad combination.

In ICU's all over the country, doctors are talking to families, explaining options, and those families are trying to listen, and waging an emotional battle with themselves. What happens all to often... is a situation where the family waits around to long to make the call... and eventually there is no call left to make. The body has rebuilt itself inside, but the mind is gone.

"Withdrawing support" at that point means dehydration.

I'm not talking about Terri here. Fact is, the only reason we've heard about Terri is the bizarre circumstances and the court fight. While you lament Terri's coming death, perhaps you could take a moment to consider the thousands dying in exactly the same way. No vigils for them.

Medicine is at an awkward stage. In the case of catastrophic failure, often they are good enough to keep you alive when you shouldn't be... but they aren't good enough to guarantee you any kind of decent life.

We recoil at the thought of Doctors deciding when its time to withdraw support (even though they do it in the OR's all the time), but families have demonstrated themselves all to often, unwilling to make that call. What we see from many parents is just the emotional need to feel like they did everything they could. They want the patient to die, they just don't want to be the ones to do it, and they need to feel like they tried hard to stop it, to satisfy any future guilt. This is expected... of athiests.

Most disturbing to me is the Christian fear of death.

And that.. is why this whole thing falls back in the lap of the Church.

See... Families are dropping the ball, but we cannot invest in doctors or God forbid, judges, the power to say who lives and who dies. Thus, if it is going to be addressed, it is the families with whom we must address it.

Only the Church is capable of such a thing.

As a Church we fear death. We lament death. We treat death as if it was an end, and we have to change that.

I do not fear death, nor do I relate to those Christians who do. Oh... I understand why a Buddist would... I understand why an Atheist would... But not a Christian. We will go when we go, and that will not be a bad thing.

Fight for the life of your loved ones. But if its time.. its time. Let them go in peace with some shred of dignity. You're not foresaking your Faith by allowing them to die people.

Let them go while their blood and oxygen are being supplied artificially. Let them go while there is no doubt of their conscienceness.

And what of Living Wills? Bah... the documents are practicly more trouble than their worth. Fact is... they are medical treatments, and the decisions about them are being made by people with no medical knowledge.

"Give me drugs, but no CPR... Don't tube me... unless I'm unconscience... then you can tube me..."

Ya think I'm making that up? Actually those are the exact instuctions DrWho was dealing with the other night.

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