Everyone who's ever worked in an office chuckles at Dilbert, but its creator, Scott Adams, is a douchebag
. He likes to fancy himself a libertarian, but like many libertarians, he's just a douche. In his latest missive, he's decided that it's the government's fault that his 86-year-old father was being kept alive in a hospital by means he does not detail
My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has left is hours or possibly months of hideous unpleasantness in a hospital bed. I'll spare you the details, but it's as close to a living Hell as you can get.
If my dad were a cat, we would have put him to sleep long ago. And not once would we have looked back and thought too soon.
Because it's not too soon. It's far too late. His smallish estate pays about $8,000 per month to keep him in this state of perpetual suffering. Rarely has money been so poorly spent.
I'd like to proactively end his suffering and let him go out with some dignity. But my government says I can't make that decision. Neither can his doctors. So, for all practical purposes, the government is torturing my father until he dies.
Scotty, if you want to blame someone for this state of affairs, blame your father for not doing an advance directive. With an advance directive, you would have been able to meet with his doctors and determine what treatment was appropriate for his condition. Anyone who is in his or her eighties and doesn't have one should do one now. Even if you are younger, you should do one now.
I went to an attorney this week to draw up a will and an advance directive with a healthcare proxy, so that if I am ever in a situation like the one Mr. Brilliant was in, I'm not kept suspended between this world and the next for months or years with a tube to make me piss, another up my ass, a PICC line in my clavicle, an arterial line in my arm, and a ventilator and nasogastric feeding tube down my throat. That's not to say I don't want a chance at reasonable quality of life, but when to withdraw care isn't always a simple question, and I know that as well as anyone. I will always be grateful to Mr. B.'s doctors for heeding my pleas to be honest with me about his prognosis and whether it was going to be worth putting him through the invasive things he went through. They wanted as much as I did for him to come back from whatever place he went to when his brain started seizing and he had to be on heavy sedation and four anti-epilepsy drugs in order to quiet it enough to keep the seizures from coming back. There are people who have had strokes and left the neuro ICU with a trach and PEG and woke up six months later. But they are the exception, not the rule. And when it was clear that no amount of any medication was going to keep the seizures at bay without keeping him in a coma indefinitely, perhaps permanently, they offered him as quiet, painless, and fear-free an end as was possible. And they could do that because Mr. B. was thoughtful enough to make his wishes known well in advance.
So, Scott Adams, it wasn't the government keeping your father alive against YOUR will, since we don't know what his will was (and what the hell does his estate matter to you anyway? You're a fucking multimillionaire). It was your father himself, who put you, your family, and his doctors in the position of not knowing what he would want. You're blaming the wrong person, pal.
Labels: advance directives, medicine, nothing is certain except death and taxes