Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Right to Die & Being Prepared for the End of Your Life

So lately I've been recording the Dr. Oz show and watching it at my leisure. Good stuff on there most of the time. But today I watched yesterday's episode about the Right to Die debate, and it's been walking around with me ever since.

There was a woman on the show that suffers from a terminal illness and I can't really get her out of mind. Here is a clip from her part of the show. She is bound to a bed or wheelchair all of the time. She is not able to do anything at all but speak. She wants to die because she's tired of fighting for life. She doesn't seem to be in pain. She seems to have full capacity to speak her mind.

I AM a proponent of the patient's right to ask that they be allowed or assisted to die. But I wish this woman hadn't been one of the examples of someone who would use that. When I think of someone who wants to end their own life, I think of someone that is in horrendous pain. Or someone that is reliant on feeding tubes and respirators to continue living. Or both. Not someone that can still have the capacity to finish raising her children, albeit from a bed. Not someone that can help her family with important life to deal with relationships, how to choose a college, whether to take a job or not, or even whether to wear purple socks with a red sweater. I don't think of someone with perfectly coiffed hair and the ability to communicate clearly with others without pain.

I think of someone in Montel Williams's situation. He talks about it here. And worse. (If you haven't watched "You Don't Know Jack," you really need to.)

I certainly don't want anyone to think I believe the other woman is not suffering. Clearly she is. But to me, she still has a lot to offer right now.

That said, Dr. Oz touched on another subject that is very real. He didn't spend much time on it, but that other subject is that of preparedness. No matter who you are, no matter how young or old you are, you really need to keep your affairs in order and up-to-date. You need to have a living will and you need to be sure you have the right beneficiaries set up for your assets. Recently an acquaintance of mine passed away tragically. It was discovered after his death that he never transferred his beneficiary information on his retirement benefits to his wife. Those benefits are assigned to another family member who, it appears, does not plan to turn them over to her and their children.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE for letting these details slide. NO. EXCUSE.