Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Definitions

Definitions
Written by: Carolyn Hileman

4 a : the action or the power of describing, explaining, or making definite and clear

It has become very clear to me that the case of court sanctioned murder that we were a witness to was all about definitions. What do you define artificial life support to be? What is the definition? To different people it means different things.

To some artificial life support means any tubes at all, to others it means that if you take it off they die instantly or within a few hours. Therein lays the problem, no communication and utter confusion. A lot of people do not know that for instance the absence of a feeding tube means that their loved on will experience a lot of pain. I have seen dehydration up close and personal and I can tell you what it looks like.

Their mouths will develop soars, their tongs will turn an awful yellow color it will be very dry and will swell, and it will have the texture of sand paper. They will become listless and will start to lose oxygen. You see your water supply is in that feeding tube as well. You may ask how I would know this, it is because I saw my Dad in just that situation and moved him from the nursing center he was in immediately. A lot of people do not know that this is just the beginning of what they or their loved ones will go through and that it can last up to a full 12 days.

Just think twelve days with no food or water, when was the last day that you didn’t snack between meals, went a whole night with out food or drink? Give this some serious thought, who was it you told that you did not want artificial life support and what is their definition of that statement. I would think you would want to know now rather than later, but then you never know. While you are at it you might wish to define what you mean when you say you would not want to live like that.

I know I have a lot of days when I am in so much pain I cannot imagine that anyone would want to live this way, but I know there are a lot of people who are in a lot worse shape than I who are still going about their day. There are cancer patients who fight till their last breath, AIDS victims who take drugs that make them so sick they cannot function yet they still want to live.

It is scary to even think about getting old, I have watched older people barely able to walk who have had strokes and I think to myself is that what we have to look forward to? What is the point if all you have to look forward to is pain and suffering, and yet these people still function, still manage to live. I suppose that is because the only other option is death, and even though we are walking through Hell daily there are still loved ones that we don’t want to leave behind, things we have yet to do so the will to live takes over.

My intention is not to argue the court case here, it would not bring her back and we all know that something must be done. My intention is to make sure that people define very carefully what it is that they want done in their final days. Make sure that everyone around you knows your wishes and do not leave it up to their definitions.

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