How do you feel about your end of life scenario? The reason I am asking is because things I have seen with my own eyes. I work in an ICU, and I see people kept alive when they have conditions that would end in death if not for medical science. And I'm not talking about a temporary condition that will resolve. I'm talking about someone who has cancer in every system in the body. Or end stage respiratory problems, kidneys, etc. I have also done this in my personal life, kept someone on life support when I KNEW better.

More Americans are living with chronic diseases than ever before, due to advancements in medical science. From app. 90 million in 1995 to 120 million today. Conditions that will not get better. Do you want everything done to "not go gently into that good night"? Or are you willing to let nature take its course?

This is not talking about euthansia, death committes, or such. Just how you feel about it for yourself. And if you've made a promise to a loved one. Can you stand strong, or let your fear hold onto you? Thanks.

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I sometimes think I am the only non drinker alive with liver disease. I am a big fella with no chance of surviving. I have an extreme case if fatty liver which means it will most likely be slow. I am in pain every minute, I have had a good life and have no complaints. I know what the end will be like and I have no intentions of going that far. I figure I have some years left and intend to enjoy them, However I know what the end will be like and I will not lay in a bed able to do nothing but soil myself at the end. I hope  have the strength to end things on my own accord. My sisters can only think about my soul which I of course insist I don't have one. IN the mean time I do not get to spend the time with them I would like to. To me that is the only sad part. I mean face it we are all going to go sooner or later. I am just glad I have a wife and kids that are atheist who understands me. I don't think I could handle any more religious  nuts than my family already has.

Personally, as long as I am conscious and alert, I want to be alive as long as possible, not necessarily out of fear of death but more out of wanting to experience as much of life as I can because of how wonderful it all is. Like Christopher Hitchens, I want to be writing, working and creating my whole life.

 David. Good to hear from you, man. And I agree, except a the very end. When I can no longer do for myself without extreme measures, I want to let nature take its course. Keep me relatively pain free. No heroics. And be with friends and family to remeber, laugh, cry, make plans, gossip, etc. Beyond living wills, advanced medical directives, power of attorneys, you must talk, really talk with your families. Make sure they really understand what you want, and that you love them, and would always try to carry out their wishes. Some of my thoughts from someone who has seen it from the front lines, as it were. Thanks.

You have the right to refuse medical treatment. However, you may have to establish that before hand should you be in a situation which prevents you from expressing your wishes. That's what a living will is for.

Terry, you are right. And I have seen family members, when the patient is unconscious, withdraw the living will. But when the family is fighting, and calling in attorneys, the doctor usually takes a "time out" and puts the patient in standby until it is sorted out. I have seen this more than once. A living will is not so cut and dry. But what is?

I already had a brush with death, and it really isn't bad at all, as long as you aren't in pain. Your consciousness just fades away, and then there's nothing. Unless someone manages to revive you, as happened to me. I wasn't clinically dead, just close to it, and if my friends hadn't found me, I would have died within hours.

My brother is already clear on the fact that I do not want to spend my last days helpless and in pain when there is no hope of any future quality of life. I already have suicide plans in place, and am fully prepared to use them, but I'm luckier than most, because I have diabetes, and can easily arrange to let my blood sugar go up to a fatal level, while taking enough insulin not to go into uncomfortable ketoacidosis.

I do have to admit that it irks me when people want heroic measures to keep their bodies alive when they're no longer home -- it's tremendously expensive in both money and time, and achieves nothing. The Terri Schiavo case was really disgusting, and no one benefited from it, least of all Terri herself. To my mind, it was a crime against Terri, and that shouldn't be allowed to happen.

Hi Natalie. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the Terri Schiavo thing. A disgrace. Yes life is precious, but sometimes the best thing one can do is nothing. I know you know what I mean.

Never had a brush with death myself yet, but at my age [58 y.o.] I know it is coming, sooner than I might wish for.  I've had the opprotunity, working where I do, to speak with some people. Always let them broach the subject. Most seem to feel as you do. One sweet, nice lady told me it was kind of comforting. Then awoke back in the hospital bed with tubes and wires in her. She didn't say it, but seemed kind of disappointed.

I'm glad you brought up the expense, as according to Medicare stats, the vast majority of a recepients lifetime benefits are used within the last two years of their life. Kinda interesting fact, huh. Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate it very much.

Thinning the Head

I am a senior, so, not to far from the reality of the last curtain call. I think the quality of life is of the greatest importance, more so than duration. It depends on the ones life history what kind of philosophic perspective one develops. Some people really don't give it much thought until its staring them down. I am with the Buddhist on this one, there really never was a self, ones identity can be swept away so easily, and by so many means.

When I was young I was epileptic, and through this experience my identity was was removed from me many times, though for brief periods, enough however to start a young kid wonder about this thing called identity. Without identity you just are, and you experience your body quite differently, it feels GREAT to be alive, your experiencing the vitality of the body. There are no qualifications or limitations pressing down on who or what you are------because I guess, they can't find you--lol!! It can be rather disheartening when your memory starts flooding back, your identity is your context if you like, and how well you've dealt with that context is basically how you feel about yourself. I have told my daughter that  if I go, do not let them bring me back, what for, they are not going to bring one back in good health and young, but an old senior that would have to endure the process all over again. Well, I think that about does it for now. By the way excellent post!! I shall be following it.

Thanks for the input, James. I'm with you on this. No heroics. I believe in nature and science, and this is just a natural consequense of life. And slightly off topic, I wish for a natural burial. No chemicals, wrap me in a shroud, put me in. I want my body to help nourish the small part of the planet that I'm gonna be in, just as it has nurtured me. Thank you again for the post. Peace and long life.

Several years ago when I had emergency heart surgery, I told my primary physician and heart surgeon that I did not want resuscitation and for my yearly exams I assure them again that I do not want resuscitation. My children know my feelings and the reasons. I have had such a tremendous life, done and been places most people have not, worked with exceptionally fine people, taught college classes, had a private practice, have done research. My children are all grown and on their own. They have gifted me with four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. If I can't be in my garden, or cooking up a storm, or playing with the young ones, or going where I want to go and doing what I want to do, I want nature to take its course. No regrets, nothing more needs doing, I successfully stopped the tradition of generations of family violence and we learned how to live together in peace, how to cooperate in solving problems and resolving  conflicts. I am proud of each one of them and know their lives are built upon a solid foundation of love and respect. I go in peace ... but not yet. I feel great, am happy, enjoy life each minute of each day. 

P.S. when they wheeled me into surgery I told the surgeon I wanted an "ophthorectumy", a procedure to cut the nerve going from my eyeballs to my rectum, thus preventing a shitty outlook on life. I drifted into sleep hearing everyone laugh. 

Joan. Wonderful, just wonderful. An "opthorectomy". You made me laugh, and that I think is one of the most important thing in this. It truly speaks to our humanity on such a topic. Enjoying each minute with people we love is ultimately the best we can have in our lives, probably the only thing that truly matters. Thank you again, I'm still smiling, and will off and on all day today.

Ophthorectumy made me smile also.  Thanks Joan.

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