Saturday, May 28, 2016

Just Sayin' - I Think We Should Be Humane to Humans Too!

I just finished reading Inside the O'Briens this week and although I generally did not enjoy this book, I did learn a lot about Huntington's Disease and how families are affected by it.  It was thought provoking which inspired me to write this post.

When Joe, a Boston cop with a loving wife and four grown children, (some of whom still live at home), suffers from lack of balance, slurred speech, angry outbursts, random jumping and fidgeting and not even being aware he is doing it, he tries his best to keep his job and get a decent pension to provide for his wife after he is gone.  Unfortunately, he has to quit early and will only get about 1/3 of his pension.  He finds out from a lawyer that unless he divorces Rosie, she won't get anything because it will all go to pay for the assisted living place he most likely will end up in like his mother did.

I must say, I agree with Joe's thinking when he considered killing himself.  Here is an excerpt from page 268 that really rings true to me (Yaz was Joe's little dog that died recently):

Joe thinks of Yaz.  He lived a good, full life.  And then, when his quality of life drained away, they didn't make him suffer.  Yaz's end was peaceful and dignified, fast and painless.  Five seconds after the vet's injection, he was gone.
It was the humane thing to do.  Joe takes note of the word human in humane, and yet that kind of "human" compassion is reserved only for animals, not for people.  There is no five-second injection option for Joe.  Doctors aren't allowed to be humane with humans.  Joe and everyone like him will be expected to suffer and suck it up, to endure zero quality of life while being a burden to everyone held dear until the bitter, gruesome end. 
We all hope we never get to the place where we can't take care of ourselves, but many do.  I just think it would be nice to have the option of a lethal injection to speed up the inevitable and spare all the pain and suffering.

In the book, Joe did not commit suicide.  His daughter, Katie, changed his mind with the following words from page 273:

We don't know anyone else with HD.  You're the only example we have.  We're going to learn how to live and die with HD from you, Dad. . . . .  We don't know what's right and wrong when it comes to HD.  But whatever you do, that's the advice you're giving us.
What do you think about this?

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Sandee said...

I'm guessing we'll see humans being treated the same as our pets at some point. I've heard that California is looking into this very thing. I watched my mother suffer for years before she died. It wasn't pretty.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Carolina Cats said...

Hi Karen,

I came across your blog for your Dad on a comment you left on my blog, the Carolina Cats a few years ago. I'm sorry I didn't get in touch then. There are pix of my Dad with my cats, Finnegan & Buddy, and you noted that he seemed like your Dad. In going through your blog, they do seem very similar! I'm looking forward to reading back through your stories of your Dad. Mine died a little over 2 years ago, stolen from us by Alzheimer's Disease. We were very close and I miss him so much right now - the Father's Day ads are so painful. I wish I was a good enough writer to share him as you did your Dad, but here's a little thing I wrote for my first Father's Day without him.

My Father's Hands

I remember them because they could do anything and taught me so much

A rough workman's hands with
a scrape or a bruise now and then

Fixing anything and everything that broke

Resting confidently on the steering wheel of station wagon, racecar, riding mower, pickup truck or luxury car as he cheerfully drove so many miles

Holding my face to say "your Grandma would be proud" after I cooked him an Italian meal

Gently stroking the tiny head of a skittish cat

Hunting and pecking at the computer keyboard to share his thoughts and memories

A proud veteran saluting the flag from his front porch

In his younger days building airplane, train and car models with the finest details

Later, as the grandchildren came, turning those hands to toy making

Our last visit together...

Holding my hand as we walked the halls of the nursing home

Dunking a donut in his coffee

Cupping my chin as he kissed me goodbye


Karen, author of MY FUNNY DAD, HARRY said...

Nora, so sorry you lost your dad to Alzheimer's, but thanks for sharing "My Father's Hands" with me. It's very comforting to go down memory lane. It seems our dad's did have a lot in common.

Karen said...

I have a friend who has Huntington's Disease. It is horrible for the whole family. Makes me count my many blessings.

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