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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby morcan » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:42 am

This is an answer I gave to a question about the subject -- a question which was "Deleted by Customer Care". Who knows why? Most of the answers mirrored the question in that they took a party political stance. I'm posting here to provide my own real-life experience.

"Fair warning. My mother had the misfortune to be diagnosed with metastacized breast cancer in Oregon in 1993 when (rebounding from the Rajneeshee embarrassment) the PC folks there were anxious to put themselves back at the top the liberal charts and tried to legalize euthanasia. They did, but the State initiative was quickly squelched by the Federal government -- or the Supreme Court. So much for reactionary logic as well.

Nevertheless, it seemed with the news that every kook in the care professions was drawn to Portland like so many vultures. Oregon did in fact pass a landmark hospice bill, but included a better-than-good provision. If two doctors signed a paper which stated the patient had less than six months to live, the law provide for practically unlimited funding to privately-run hospice facilities. Comfort care only if that was desired, family counseling, etc. Fair enough. But there was added a clause whereby (intending to protect the dignity of those with AIDS), once the patient was admitted to hospice, even the caregivers were forbidden by law to know the person's actual diagnosis. Like I said: better than good.

Through this loophole, my sister -- who is an attorney, set in motion a plan to expedite our mother's death. When my mother's primary doctor was taken away to have a bone-marrow transplant himself, my mother had a catastrophic episode of internal bleeding. I was there when she refused a what was thought to be a life-saving transfusion. My sister then stepped in, having the hospice papers signed by the doctor's associate who had no reason to suspect my sister's motives. She then fired the oncologist (who believed my mothers's prognosis was for two years or more). "What can she tell us except that our mother is dying?", said my sister to me nonchalantly, "It's a waste of money." Papers in hand, she then proceeded to give an utterly false description of my mother's condition to the hospice administration, backing it up with a "donation" which consisted of the entire contents of my mother's bank account.

The hospice swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Informed by my sister that our mother had "less than two weeks to live", I came back from Paris where I lived to find her bound to a bed, and drugged around the clock with Demerol. It took weeks to undo this, and to begin an investigation which revealed my sister's own story about our mother's condition. This included a fictitious tumor that threatened my mother's spine (so that she "had" to be kept prone and immobile), as well as an equally fictitious "diagnosis" of Alzheimer's which covered any objections my mother might try to make. Three more months to remove my sister's Power of Attorney, which she had gained with a bedside masquerade of daughterly fealty just like the one which fooled the hospice administration and my mother's new doctor. During this time my mother was deprived of care, and of the medication she desperately needed.

Once the Power of Attorney was removed and her plan was stopped, my sister disappeared -- not even attending the funeral three years later. She even tried to legally block the memorial service. I have not seen her or spoken to her since. My mother did have a full remission once I got her medication (Tomoxifen) restored, and eventually walked out of that place. In fact the administration began trying to throw her out the day the "donation" ran out. She spent her last three years in any number of facilities -- even reaching Level 1 Adult Foster Care for a while. But in each one she suffered varying degrees of neglect or abuse, eventually dying in 1996 -- not from cancer, but from the after-effects of a botched and unauthorized hysterectomy. I stayed throughout those years, just to protect her life from those whose duty as they saw it was to send people 'To the Other Side' as they like to put it. Under the circumstances, it was an absolutely necessary 'sabbatical' that incidentally cost me my own home and career.

My point is this. It was all so wrong and unnecessary, and all caused by the awful hysteria that can grow around the ill, especially the terminally ill. To be sure, my sister was and is insane. But only in an atmosphere lacking in moral direction and civil standards could her plans have taken root or allowed to grow unchecked as they did. During the years I spent in Portland at my mother's side I saw more than dozens, many more than than dozens who suffered similarly outrageous abuse -- often intentional abuse from those who were mandated and licensed to care for them.
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby ricki » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:47 am

I can feel your pain. As the one who had to make the decision for both of my parents, I know how difficult it is . In my Mother's case, I had to make the decision to take her off of life support and I lived in a different state. After calling in another doctor and in my heart and soul knowing my Mom wasn't going to live long, telling her so her wishes would be honored, I know that I am at peace with my decision. In my Dad's case the hospital killed him and in particular one doctor who didn't call me until after he decided my Dad should be released from th hospital against the advice of two doctors, including his primary care doctor. My God, I could tell he was dehydrated and couldn't even stand up to get dressed. He was 82 but was playing volleyball just a few days before this. I was driving him home from my sisters, as he was vomiting his own feces. He was taken to the hospital and had emergency surgery in which the doctor explained that his bowel was twisted and he successfully untwisted it in surgery. My Dad came out of the surgery and had an oxygen mask on but was awake and pretty alert . He did not indicate severe pain. I went back up to see him and he never spoke again. They just put him on a large dose of morphine and basically drugged him up for no reason. After that they switched my Dad to Ativan that was given through the glass bottles instead of the plastic bags. I went day after day and he never spoke again and just lay there with no sign of life. I asked as the spokesperson for the family, for an EEG and was refused. He was pronounced dead after the day before the doctor in charge told me he was very much alive and they were going to wean him off the liquid Ativan and he would be fine. I was in total shock and disbelief. His death was pronounced with septicemia, aspiration pneumonia (they had him lying down all the time) bowel obstruction which was said to be successful and finally renal failure. Before I could get to the hospital , as I was the last to be called and wanted an autopsy done, they got to my younger sister to get her to have his body taken to the funeral home. They has taken him there already before I got there and I was furious. The sister they asked was in a very bad state of mind and couldn't make the decisions. I am not a type of person to sue but this was gross negligence. When I contacted a lawyer and told the story they said it was the most gross negligence case they had heard of. I keep a journal of all that was said and done and also held a meeting with a doctor with family members, where it was decided to not take extraordinary measures, like cracking open his chest to "save" him. The lawyers said the word "but" and I knew what was coming and said, "Let me guess, due to his age, you won't spend the money to go after a hospital ." They said I was correct and I also said that they didn't place value on his life because of his age. Never mind that my Dad was a WWII and Korean War veteran and highly decorated with even receiving the Silver Star. His family always lived into their late 90's to over 100 yrs. old. I was outraged by this all. They didn't place any value on his life due to his age, even though we are free in this country thanks to him and other vets and 3 straight years of combat. I had to also make the decision to put him on life support and then to take him off. I know I made the right decision but he didn't have to die. They drugged him up so much and he died.
Sorry , this is lengthy but how can we begin to tell our horrible stories and keep it short?
Your sister was obviously not the person to be able to make decisions in the best interest of your Mother. I am so sorry. The health system is a business and often times uncaring.
I may not have their degree but I know much information on health issues and can never live in peace with what the hospital did.
I am happy that your Mom was strong enough to utter the words you needed to hear. It seems that it is easier to drug the elderly until they can't talk or move than to help the patient. What a septic society we live in. They assume they know what is best but they don't. They just can't be bothered. I am glad you got to see your Mom eat again and I know how you feel. They often don't even know or care whether the patient is in pain or not. They took the easy way out. It wasn't easy for the family and will never give us peace of mind.
I don't believe in euthanasia, as I am a Christian and believe that it is God's will when we go. I am honored to know someone like you who stepped in and help her live again, if even for a short while. Who knows our loved ones better than us? Sorry for your loss but at least you had one doctor willing to help and thank God for that and the time she had. At a time when our family should have been close, we were torn apart. I can sleep with my decisions amd I doubt those doctors that were responsible for my Dad dying, are losing any sleep over it. The hospital just sits there
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby laureano97 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:49 am

Author, painter, journalist -- no matter. Only 76, had retired from a lifetime of full-time work (for the State!) only 4 years earlier. Worthless. Thanks to my sister, even her safe-deposit box was empty."Now," said the lawyer, "If she'd been an 18-year-old basketball star. That would BE something!"
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby drystan » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:51 am

I'm glad this question came my way starred by my contact, Okei!

I got to read all these experiences...in fact, I had a story of my own mother to add. But was too overwhelmed to join in! Its our love that wants to keep our dear ones with us for few more moments...pleading with God & doctors!!
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby broehain61 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:54 am

Working in the health care field I've witnessed many similar heart-wrenching situations. Perhaps your real-life story as well as other responders will help people to realize that our health care problems are more than just mere political abstractions. It is about real people suffering needlessly.

Though I'm sure the problem is complex, involving many systemic cultural/ social/ political/religious/economic issues, the answer is relatively easy. It is about who we are and who we want to be.

(I know you are not looking for sympathy but how about a tip of the hat for your courage). A tip of the hat to Karen, Kit Kat et al as well.
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby taillefer » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:07 am

I will quote you from your email of last night. "Seeing the growth of nonchalance in the face of evil as some kind of acceptable behavior in general, that's something I truly don't understand. I mean, here these people are arguing about whether it's the Liberals or the Conservatives that are right or wrong, and not one of them so much as mentions the welfare of the sick and dying themselves. When the Asker mentions "madness" it was tempting to remind him of Nero fiddling while Rome burned." Many of us have seen or heard of patients neglected, left for dead - and it makes people angry, but the drive to do what is right is being filtered out of our society to the point now where the government is relied upon to lead us in the "proper" direction. We are left with loud voices blaming one side or another as you said, when the solution to the madness lies in action. You: "The definition of madness is not knowing right from wrong." Me: Clearly where the dollar is you will find that madness. In the US certainly.
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby kirklin » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:18 am

Your story is long, but from what I understand, your mother is the one who refused the blood transfusion. After that, the issue was with the hospice not confirming her medical records, not the euthanasia laws. Doctors are forbidden to tell the caregivers anything about the person's diagnosis unless there is a an order of gardianship or the patient gives consent, or the patient is unable to speak for themselves.

My problem with your story is that it seems like your sister was doing more what your mom wanted, since your mom is the one who refused the life saving transfusion. And then further more that the hospice duped their personal responsibility of confirming the diagnosis. Your sister cant fire an oncologist unless she was their boss, so....

I may not have understood your story correctly, but...

I have had cancer twice, and I strongly support each person's right to choose their own death. Yes, maybe the laws need to be better to ensure things like your story dont happen, but I think the answer is to improve the laws rather than forget about it altogether.
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How about another side of euthanasia in The US?

Postby lamarr3 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:24 am

In Phoenix in about 1990, my mother-in-law had a stroke and was admitted to a long term care facility. We went to see her, and she was very ill. (None of her family lived close by. We were taking turns visiting her a few days at a time, as continuously as we could.) When I arrived, she had a terrible back ache, a fever, cloudy urine (she was catheterized, so it was easy to see) and there was an odor of very strong ammonia in the room. She obviously had a urinary tract infection. I asked that the doctor check on her, and was told the doctor was only required to see her once a month, and she had already had her check for that month. I said, "But she's ILL! Can't the nurse call and make a request?" I was told no repeatedly, and I was referred up the chain of command while I pursued simple treatment for this fairly predictable infection, given her situation. I finally got to the lawyer who was supposed to be acting as the interface between the public and the medical staff, who basically didn't want to admit that she had an infection, because the implication was that the catheterization was not done properly or that her care had been substandard, a claim I was NOT making...I only wanted her to see a doctor and get treatment. The lawyer said something along the lines of "Look, lady. We see all kinds here who are just trying to get their hands on their elderly parent's money, and we are not having it. She's seen the doctor. She doesn't need to see the doctor again, and we are not requesting that we call one in. If all her funds are spent on medical visits, she'll run out and not be able to stay here." In other words, he wanted to protect her MONEY, and her ability to remain at that institution, rather than PROTECT HER. They didn't want her euthanized. They wanted to milk her dry.

In any case, I'm sorry that you had to go through such a trauma. There are blood suckers on every side of the patient's bed, I'm afraid.

No amount of regulation replaces morals. We either have 'em, or we don't.

When I reported all this to the brothers, they talked it over and within a week made arrangements to have her moved to a facility closer to one of the boys' homes. She was treated for the infection as soon as she was in the ambulance for the transfer. She died soon after that, of a second stroke.
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