It’s a strange business I’m in. I do talk radio and I write. I know about a lot of things and read everything I can get my hands on. I talk to reporters and scientists and experts and citizens with stories to tell.
Most of the time, the subjects we discuss on my programs deal with problems and situations that affect other people. It isn’t often that the subject applies to me or my family. That was the case. Not now.
A little over two weeks ago, I interviewed a man on my program whom I’d interviewed before. He had written “Forced Exit,” a book about euthanasia, what we used to call “mercy killing.”
Wesley Smith has a new book out now. It’s called “The Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America,” published by Encounter Books. It’s a chilling account of the hidden changes in medical care in this country and more importantly, the deliberate changes in the training of doctors, nurses, ethics personnel and other health-care workers.
Remember how most of us were concerned about the wonders of medical technology keeping us alive artificially, making us slaves to tubes and machines? Remember how we all were advised to have living wills which would designate what we didn’t want done to us if we were in final and desperate straits? Remember all the money we paid to lawyers to draw up such documents and how when it was done, we felt safe.
Forget it. You are not safe.
You are more at risk than ever. Not from being kept alive longer than you desire but from having your life ended sooner than nature might dictate and in fact, sooner than you or your family want.
I won’t mince words. What I’m saying is that you and your loved ones are now more in danger of having your life ended by doctors refusing medical care than in having it extended artificially.
In his book, Smith describes what is called the “Futile Care Theory.” What it means in simple language is that doctors will refuse treatment, any treatment, if they decide that it’s your time to die. It won’t matter if the patient wants help. It won’t matter if the family wants help. The answer will be “no.”
When I interviewed Smith, I never dreamed that within days, I would experience exactly that situation. But I did. It is the most devastating experience you can imagine. It left me filled with raging emotions, unbelievable anger and frustration.
It left me with my father dead. He died just a few nights ago.
He was in the late stages of prostate cancer. We knew he would not survive that battle. He had decided long ago that he did not want radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. That was his decision. We treated the illness with hormones and herbs and it was controlled for several years. But it finally did spread, and we knew the end was coming.
One week ago, he was transferred to a larger hospital to have blood drained from his chest. He was conscious, rational, could eat and drink on his own and had minimal pain. His only medication was a blood pressure pill, a baby aspirin, a Tylenol if he had pain, and an IV drip with potassium. Hardly what you would expect of a “terminal” case. He was to be transferred back to his original hospital/convalescent care. That’s when it all happened, so fast it made our heads spin.
The doctors decided on their own that we wanted only pain assistance so they discontinued all the medicines he was getting, including the IV drip. They never asked the family; it was an arbitrary decision. My poor mother, who was alone with Daddy, believed them when they said it was the “best” thing for him. They were doctors after all! Besides, she told me, she was afraid to question them for fear they might do something to hurt Daddy.
It was a weekend. When I found out what they had done, I demanded to have a doctor, only to be told he was not on call. They could only take Daddy to the emergency room if it were an emergency and it wasn’t and they could not re-insert the IV without doctors’ orders. (Catch 22!)
I implored the head nurse and was told that Daddy was going “through a process”! (A process?) Yes, I was told in all seriousness, my dad was “processing.” That’s the new way of saying that Daddy was dying.
The nurse also said that dehydrating Daddy would be good because it would force his body to produce endorphins to kill pain. I could not believe my ears!
After much discussion, I finally got him to have the doctor call me. He did but refused to reinsert the IV. They coerced my mother to agree to wait until Monday to see how Daddy was. They even told her the IV would do more harm.
Daddy ate and talked, right up to the end. He even ate two desserts with gusto. I talked to him a few hours earlier and he was his old self. Two days before, I’d asked him if he wanted to die and he said no.
You can live a couple of weeks without food but only about two days without water. The doctor removed the IV Friday night. Daddy was dead Sunday night. Two days.
The doctor expressed his regrets to my Mom and said he was sorry I was so upset. He said “that often happens with family members who just don’t understand and get very emotional.”
I don’t know how he sleeps at night. I just can’t wait to get his bill. I got more consolation from the vet when my dog died.
Be warned. This is not just my tragedy, this same fate awaits your family because that is what the medical system is teaching their people to do — to us, their patients, under the guise of medicine. God help us.