Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mercy Killing – Mercy Me

My daughter wrote her first college paper last weekend on “Euthanasia.” Her dad got sick when she turned 10.

“I wrote one in high school, do you think it’s still on your computer?”

I didn’t know. It wasn’t saved, turned out. I had no idea.

“It has to be five pages!”

She got it right in the first paragraph. “Last April my father died after eight years of a rare brain disease. Why should people have to go through the torture of being unable to take care of themselves, be confused all the time, be in pain, wet their pants and have constant seizures?” she wrote.

I kept reading, “My father was hospitalized 16 times in the last 18 months of his life.”

I looked up at her from the page. “I can add some details,” I said. “He also had 26 MRIs and 11 lumbar punctures. They call them ‘spinal taps’ and are one of the most painful procedures anyone can undergo.”

Her paper went on to say that euthanasia is practiced in the Netherlands and the state of Oregon legalized it with the Death with Dignity Act. Her writing was good; descriptive, but solid and factual. It was compelling even though she struggles with writing, with laying down words to tell a story. She’s a scientist. Facts and measurements tell it to her satisfaction.

“Euthanasia frees up medical funds for those who have a chance to make it,” she wrote.

In one simple, cool sentence, she accepts the present reality that people with money live longer and people who run out of money have to die. And if they have to die, they should be able to choose to do it sooner than later.

We talked about the DNR order as a step toward giving the patient control over the timing of death.

“But that doesn’t always work,” she said. “Dad died a few times and they brought him back.”

Sharp girl. “Yes, sometimes the medical community doesn’t want to accept the DNR as the authority in the matter,” I admitted.

“That’s because they don’t want to accept the patient as the authority,” she said.

Very sharp girl.

“Do you think Dad would have wanted to die sooner than he did?”

She stops to think.

“I think he always tried to make the best of it and be positive, but I also know that he hated being disabled and there were lots of times that he cried and prayed for it to end.”

“Well, in a way, he got some control because I brought the DNR to the hospital and refused any treatment or any procedures. ‘Only painkillers’ was what he said when we went over it on Thursday. On Saturday, he was unconscious and that’s what he got. Only painkillers.”

“That’s when it was the worst. The last few days, when he was unconscious and we had to suction him and hold him down during seizures? He was in misery. He didn’t die until Wednesday. That’s just cruel.”


“Mom, how do you think I’ll do on my paper?”

I had no idea.

“Fine, honey. I think you’ll do fine.”

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