Dr. Kevorkian - right or wrong?

Started by

Was he right is trying to give the right of choice to suffer or die with dignity?

Our dogs had to be put down- they didn't understand what was happening. 30 second shot, and their sufferig was over. My poor lab had cancer, again. took friend who s nurse antheistist with me to vet, Cab put his head on our kness and just laid there. Very peaceful and dignifieid. Very much loved, went with us everywhere.....Pets our our family too.

39 Comments

I know I will catch some flak for this so here goes. I wouldn't do my dog like I have seen humans treated when nature says it's time to go.The rounds of chemo they are talked into by well meaning friends and family and MDs.with the possibility of a few months, but what hell those months are.The procedures, the ICU stays for weeks, months, never seeing the sun, feel the wind again.My personal belief, again I know this will get some upset and I apologize,is that family tends to go with these over the top procedures and treatments is to postpone them having to deal with the death of the loved one, it is selfish but it is so human to be that way. They are selfish not out of hate or meaness but fear, fear of death, facing their own mortality. Also when you lose your parent you also in a way lose your past.It's only natural people will put off having to deal with something painful. It isn't easy being the one to tell the MD no more, stop it.I've seen families turn on each other, call the one that stopped everything a murderer.What gets me do these people think we live forever, we are finite creatures.A hundred yrs. ago death seemed to be more accepted as part of life but with the advancement of meds and procedures and TV people somewhere along the way seemed to get the idea that death wouldn't happen to them.I think people should have a better option than to have to die in some old man;s van(Kevorkian) but at least he got the subject out in the open.At least people are talking. Thirty yrs ago when I started as a nurse, the word hospice didn't exist as far as I know, it wasn't even an option.Nobody died at home.,they lingered for what seemed an eternity in limbo in an ICU or hospital bed and never saw their home,pets, the sky,the sun etc again. They died in a sterile unnatural setting no matter how nice the nurses and mds were.My dad died of leukemeia and at the time the only treatment was constant blood transfusions, this was yrs ago, my mother calls me one day screaming he refused to do it anymore. I go and pick him up at the hospital and I told him I would do whatever he wanted, I wasn't going to use up what energy he had to argue with him, this wasn't about me.All he wanted was to go home, be in bed with his little dogs and books and I made that happen. My mother went ballistic when I told her I was calling in hospice, she didn't want him dying in "her" home. I reminded her it was also his home, she has NPD and can be a real bitch.And that is what happpend. Old friends would come by the house, he had his dogs, his books and familiar surroundings, would even go out in the yard sometimes, he couldn't have these things in the hospital, he passed peacefully and unafraid.So start talking to each other, you can be afraid but just start talking to each other, what you want, don't want, tell all your family, don't place guilt on one person, make it very clear now,don't wait until possible dementia sets in.These are difficult talks but once the words get going it isn't all that bad and can actually bring families closer together
After being a caregiver and watching my mom's steady decline,I am so Kevorkian for myself. I do not have kids and I'm an only child so no nieces or nephews. As soon as I see it's going to be bad for me in terms of my health, I'm taking matters into my OWN hands. Let the bible thumpers hate me. I really don't give a blank.
If someone is in pain and really does want to die and has no hope of anything but pain and misery, I can't think it's humane to force them to endure that. Some might claim that there could be a cure at any time. That might be true but if the person is in such misery that they don't feel they would try to wait for any potential (although probably unlikely) relief, then I think that is up to them.

The problem comes with regard to where to cut this off. I had watched the Kevorkian film and I can't remember this, but I think he did try to be careful that the person really did understand and could make the decision. I think there needs to be some kind of way to make sure that it's not a whim, that the person really understands what they're doing, and that their situation is truly serious-enough to warrant this.

Unlike a pet, where we (hopefully) make an informed decision for them, in a human being's case, they are making the decision for themselves and I think we have to be extra-cautious not to let someone have a suicide merely because they're depressed, for example.

But I also think it's a hard issue to involve a doctor in. A doctor could most easily understand how to put a person out of their pain, but I have to wonder if that really does push them away from their Hippocratic oath. That's an ethical discussion for someone else to pursue as I'm not sure how to address that, myself.
Choosing to die gracefully (without extreme treatments such as chemo and the like) is not the same a suicide. We all die. Period. I am a Christian and the Bible has brought me great peace and comfort through tough days so maybe you would call me a Bible thumper. The Bible tells me how to live in the light and how to die with great hope.
I am opposed to extreme medical interventions which cause us to linger and suffer.
ITA. For myself, I would want to be at home and kept in comfort. An IV bag with Morphine in it would be perfect. I like to let it flow to be as "comfortable" as necessary. Hey, when the heart gives out, it's time to cross over. At least I wouldn't be put through crazy life saving methods, which would tire me out and make me feel like I want to die, but can't
.
I think any of us watching our parents decline, or ourselves having been really sick or in pain, know that it's better to die with dignity and in your own surroundings rather than having strangers yell, pull, push, stab at you.... I believe in letting a person "be comfortable", and letting the heart give out, peacefully.
I think the point I want to make is for people to start talking with their families now, while everyone is in good health, not sick and depressed.It is an uncomfortable subject but so necessary and again once the talk gets started it gets that elephant out of the room. And families with multiple children really need to start talking about POA,DPOA, MPOA before anyone gets sick so everyone is on the same page.Some of the kids(adults) it may be just to much for them, that is okay, but the parents need to figure out which kid can handle it and make their wishes known to all the kids, cousins,nephews, nieces etc what they want so nobody gets a guilt trip placed on them.
i greatly admire kevorkian . he had hepc and was in tune with the horror of impending liver cancer for himself . he broke the law because the law was sick . ill always despise gwb with his squinty , scowl for imprisoning doc and trying to " save " chaivo .. gwb doesnt believe in anything but lying for fame and personal gain .
Thank you for reading and understanding. This limbo is tough. You have to be tough to get old someone told me. My dad tried so hard to fight liver cancer...At least he did die at home 13 months later...We are on year 4 wilth ALZ... I acknowledged mom's ALZ only 2 years ago. AGain Thank you for listening.
I have had this conversation with those that matter to me...My choice, my decision.... while on the one hand, modern medicine has made awesome advances...... the other hand is letting people live in abject misery, pain, and dread....
For me it's not even about dignity. It's about, if I ccan't be alive in all ways, then I don't want to do this anymore....My kids know how I feel, know that it is my choice and will be by my own hand.... I will not expect them to participate....

I would not encourage or discourage any one that wanted to end their life..... just as my journey has been personal... so my exit will be.
Tex I began nursing in England in the late 50s and the modern hospice movement was just begining. My only contact was escorting a patient to an inpatient facility which seemed little different from a N/H. I knew nothing of the philosophy untill i became a hospice nurse 17 years ago. Earlier in the UK I was a staff nurse on a professorial medical unit. the professors specialty was kidney disease and some of our patients were admitted in the final stages of kidney failure. This was before the days of dialysis or kidney trantsplants. The medication of choice in those days was injections of heroin. The dose was generous and had to be given every four hours as prescribed so the patient was still rousable but avoided the terminal agitation. Some nurses did not want to give this medication when the patient appeared to be comfortable and drowsy but it was essential for a peaceful end. The concept of dying at home did not seem popular at that time but all my grandparents had passed in their own homes but that was before socialized medicine so a hospital stay would have involved considerable expence and Drs still made house calls.
What did I learn from this? I am sorry to say not too much at the time but when I started working for hospice so many years later and was given the means to keep my patients comfortable at the end of life I had no problem being generous with their medications.
Assisted suicide? I know a family who did just that when their loved one decided the time was right. Adults and children gathered at the bedside for an evening of family togethernes and were able to say their final goodbyes. The loved one simply did not wake up in the morning.
Suicide has such a harsh sound to it. I wish there was a better word to describe ending ones own life. Mine and my husband's wishes are written and our children know what we want. Recently I saw a new Dr who turned out to be 83 years old. After being diagnosed with dysphagia and asthma I was prescribed two steroid inhalers which I was reluctant to use because I felt the steroids might impact my heart conditions. He pulled his chair closer and said "Now Veronica I am just a little bit older than you " patting my knee "Now what do you want quality or quantity of life?" I smiled back and said "I was a hospice nurse I choose quality" he nodded and told the nurse to go and find me some sample inhalers.
My stepmother had colon cancer and had surgery and chemo. The chemo did a lot of damage to her body and she siad she wished she had never had it, The last ten years of her life were miserable as she became able to do less and less for herself living alone.
I have arranged for many animals to be euthanized. It is sad when it is a small one but to see a horse fall to the ground as the drugs take effect is something else but always the right decision.
So when my time comes I hope I am still able to make the decision to leave under my own steam but if not I hope someone who loves me will guide my hand.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support