The View From Your Sickbed

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

My mom, who was a respiratory therapist, watched many people kept alive, probably against their will, because they had no real instructions. Many came in and out of consciousness, but because they were intubated, they couldn't speak. They'd plead with their eyes to just be let go.

Mom, when the first signs of Alzheimer's appeared, went to her doctor, filled out a living will, got it witnessed and gave it to my brother.
At the time she went into a coma at home, they were talking about amputating both her legs due to diabetes and then dumping her in a bed somewhere until she died. She went into a coma at about midnight and my brother called her doctor, who arrived with an ambulance in case he could save her. After examining her, he said, there's no hope. We'll try, but there's no hope that she will even live 24 hours.

My brothers and I were on the phone and we all said, let her go. She told us so many times she never wanted to be kept alive for no reason. She died an hour later.

I got a copy of her living will and amended it slightly. I feel much better. But think how many people have no one in their family with real medical knowledge? Will they do this or will they leave themselves at the mercy of people who are pledged to keep you alive, no matter how much misery and cost it will create?

Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and Chuck Grassley and a million Republican elves have a lot to answer for.