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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dying With Dignity

So much has been written about palliative care lately, about the advances medicine has made, and about the fact that suffering has been alleviated to a high degree. Nevertheless, one hears stories, one reads statistics, and one knows people who have had to deal with terminal situations of one kind or another, who are in agonizing pain, and whose pain management is not working the way one might assume it should. I have inquired with several doctors about this subject, as well as looking it up on various websites, and the standard answer appears to be that pain management is often a very individual thing, one size does not fit all, and hence, for some people, the physician may need to make numerous attempts at trying to find just the right combination of drugs that actually do work. And it may not always happen in time to alleviate the pain.

Other situations involve people who realize they are well on the road into dementia, Alzheimer's, and other similar ailments that affect our neurological well-being. Away From Her, a recent movie with Julie Christie, recounts the story of a woman (Christie) who is aware of her brain's slow demise and demands to be put into a home, rather than allowing her loving husband to care for her. This is an option; others might wish to choose other options.

Then we come to those people who are infirm in other ways, quadriplegics, people in comas, and we could go on and on. None of it is pretty, and certainly none of it is easy.

With this post I have no intention of entering the ethical and moral issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide. My only goal is to offer information. Let everyone decide for themselves.

Exit and Dignitas, both Swiss organizations, offer solutions to these situations. The World Federation of Right to Die Societies also offers much global information. The end is made easier for those who wish there to be a planned end. This is done legally under certain conditions only in Belgium (since 2002), the US state of Oregon, and in Switzerland, There are many other associations in other countries, some of which can be found on either of these websites (Exit is perhaps slightly more informative in that sense), some of which include (some countries offer more than one organization): Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and Germany, India, Italy and Italy, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, and USA and USA and USA and USA, Venezuela, Zimbabwe. In these other countries legislation is not yet such, that this kind of terminal planning can take place legally, but the respective organizations offer information for those seeking it.


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