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Thursday, August 27, 2009

End of life directives are also about attempting to have the kind of last days Ted Kennedy had
Posted by Jill | 5:59 AM
The greatest fear most of us have is not even of death itself, but of the process of dying -- the image we have of being strapped to a bed in a hospital, covered with bedsores, in constant pain from the illness that's devouring us alive, unable to obtain relief because doctors are under orders not to turn us into opiate junkies, with tubes shoved into every orifice, unable even to scream. The whole point of end of life directives and living wills (full disclosure: I don't have one yet) is to make sure that our wishes for what we want are granted. Without such directives, it's up to our families to make such decisions, or in the absence of family, it's up to the medical profession to do whatever will be paid or whatever will avoid investigations and lawsuits.

People like Betsy McCaughey will have you believe that once you create such a directive, it is etched onto stone tablets and put in a vault locked from the inside, never to be changed ever again. On the contrary, If you change your mind after a diagnosis, and decide you WANT everything but the kitchen sink thrown at you, you WANT to try treatment after treatment, even if it's futile, because you're not ready to face death, you can still do so.

It is to the eternal shame of the Obama Administration, Democrats in the Senate and House, and the broadcast media, that they have allowed the McCaughey/Palin "death panel" smear to gain traction and credibility.

And in the middle of this foofarah comes Ted Kennedy one last time, to show us what the end can be when we decide how we want to live our last days:

As recently as a few days ago, Mr. Kennedy was still digging into big bowls of mocha chip and butter crunch ice creams, all smushed together (as he liked it). He and his wife, Vicki, had been watching every James Bond movie and episode of “24” on DVD.

He began each morning with a sacred rite of reading his newspapers, drinking coffee and scratching the bellies of his beloved Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash, on the front porch of his Cape Cod house overlooking Nantucket Sound.

If he was feeling up to it, he would end his evenings with family dinner parties around the same mahogany table where he used to eat lobster with his brothers.

He took phone calls from President Obama, house calls from his priest and — just a few weeks ago — crooned after-dinner duets of “You Are My Sunshine” (with his son Patrick) and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” (with Vicki).

“There were a lot of joyous moments at the end,” said Dr. Lawrence C. Horowitz, Mr. Kennedy’s former Senate chief of staff, who oversaw his medical care. “There was a lot of frankness, a lot of hugging, a lot of emotion.”

Obviously, Dr. Horowitz added, there were difficult times. By this spring, according to friends, it was clear that the tumor had not been contained; new treatments proved ineffective and Mr. Kennedy’s comfort became the priority.

But interviews with close friends and family members yield a portrait of a man who in his final months was at peace with the end of his life and grateful for the chance to savor the salty air and the company of loved ones.

Even as Mr. Kennedy’s physical condition worsened over the summer, he still got out of bed every day until Tuesday, when he died in the evening, said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and one of Mr. Kennedy’s closest friends in the Senate.

“I’m still here,” Mr. Kennedy would call colleagues out of the blue to say, as if to refute suggestions to the contrary. “Every day is a gift,” was his mantra to begin conversations, said Peter Meade, a friend who met Mr. Kennedy as a 14-year-old volunteer on Mr. Kennedy’s first Senate campaign.

Some patients given a fatal diagnosis succumb to bitterness and self-pity; others try to cram in everything they have always wanted to do (sky-diving, a trip to China). Mr. Kennedy wanted to project vigor and a determination tokeep on going. He chose what he called “prudently aggressive” treatments.


While Mr. Kennedy typically told people he felt well and vigorous, by spring it was becoming clear that his disease was advancing to where he could not spend his remaining months as he had hoped, helping push a health care plan through the Senate.

He left Washington in May, after nearly a half-century in the capital, and decamped to Cape Cod, where he would contribute what he could to the health care debate via phone and C-Span. He would sail as much as possible, with as little pain and discomfort as his caretakers could manage.

He also told friends that he wanted to take stock of his life and enjoy the gift of his remaining days with the people he loved most.

“I’ve had a wonderful life,” he said repeatedly, friends recalled.


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Blogger Serr8d said...
And in the middle of this foofarah comes Ted Kennedy one last time, to show us what the end can be when we decide to trust our very lives to progressive 'heros'...

On July 18, 1969, two days before Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, an evidently drunken Ted Kennedy drove his mom's Olds 88 into the drink, leaving young Mary Jo Kopechne inside to drown. Though he had ample opportunity to pull her from the car, and to call emergency services, he did not report the incident until the next day, after he had a chance to talk with his lawyer and friends about how to deal with Mary Jo's inconvenient corpse.

Meanwhile, fishermen had discovered the submerged Oldsmobile. A diver was called, who found the dead girl's body in a spot where an air bubble would have formed. He concluded:

"Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim's side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car."

In short, the sleazy Senator was clearly guilty of manslaughter. Given the media attention you would expect from such a sensational case, this should have been enough to end his political career, even in Massachusetts. But possibly due in part to the excitement of Apollo 11, the appalling incident never sufficiently penetrated the public consciousness. The drunken, irresponsible, self-centered killer went on to become what his fellow moonbats sometimes describe as "The Conscience of the Senate."

That should clear up your lifetime of denial as to what Uncle Ted got away with, and continued to get away with, up until the moment of his death.

Mary Jo! Mary Jo! Mary Jo!

Blogger missy said...
And how many innocents did Bush kill in Iraq without you speaking up for any one of them, Serr8d?

If I remember correctly, Laura Bush ran over her boyfriend and killed him. What was his name? Can you tell me?

How many DUIs has Dick Cheney had? Why did he wait hours to make himself available to police after he shot Harry in the face?

Ted Kennedy made a mistake and a woman lost her life. He spent the rest of his life making up for it, and whether you realize it or not, he has made your life and the lives of those you love, Serr8d, better (assuming you have parents who are or will someday soon enjoy the benefits of Medicare, and perhaps the Americans with Disabilities Act, or Family and Medical Leave, or cancer research funding.)

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Christians are supposed to believe in something called redemption and forgiveness. So maybe a country supposedly founded on Christian principles has room in its societal soul for some.

Blogger Jill said...
Serr8d is right on cue. I told you they'd show up. This kind of crap is all they've got. And yet they are willing to forgive their hero George W. Bush everything under their doctrine of Clean Slate Christianity.

Anonymous tata said...
The last month of my father's life played out exactly as he wanted - well, besides that whole having cancer thing that was so inconvenient - because his wishes were known and respected. Fewer of us than we think get to have that.

It is really distressing to watch people misunderstand the end-of-life planning issue when so fears are misplaced. There's something to be scared of, all right. Just not what they think.

Blogger Interrobang said...
Apparently nobody told the Chappaquiddick trolls that Kennedy had a concussion, which kind of puts paid to the idea that he could have rescued her if only he'd wanted to badly enough, and also goes a long way toward explaining why he spent the next several hours in a daze.

Also, it's damn fashionable to condemn somebody for drunk driving in retrospect now that drunk driving has become a social sin of equal or greater severity than smoking in restaurants, but everybody drove drunk in the 1960s, and you had to be a pretty serious repeat offender who was damn dangerous to other people (never mind yourself) to even get hit with a DUI in those days, let alone with losing your license. Not that I was there, but my Air Force parents have some horror stories...

Blogger Serr8d said...
Ted Kennedy had lost his license for repeated drunk driving, you ignorant twerp.

But don't let me interrupt your hero-worship, your Wellstone-style promoting of Uncle Ted's bloated corpse as your newest symbol of Health Care in America; your martyrship of this drunken sex-starved symbol of privileged narcissism. Why, Mary Jo should've felt honored to have been killed, to help launch Teddy's career.

Wouldn't you have done the same thing, the sort of selfless sacrifice, if you knew your death would help Ted Kennedy become a hero of the proggtards? Would you?

Let's ask Mary Jo.