I found myself unable to get to sleep last night. You see, I was broadsided by some alarming news. My Senator, Mark Warner, whose programs, as Governor of the State of Virginia, enabled my children to finish their college education, is the spearhead of new legislation on end of life care.
When I read the bill, on his website, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. This program will “take care” of seniors like me, at the end of our lives, by encouraging us to hear sermons on “living wills and other planning tools.” Such as what? Suicide? Refusing treatment? Being a heck of a gal, by removing my wrinkled body from this earth, to make room for a younger, more valuable person?
It’s called The Senior Navigation and Planning Act of 2009. The main points of the bill are these
Enhance Medicare and Medicaid coverage of advanced illness care management services;
Require doctors to provide patients with information on living wills and other planning tools
Give providers incentives to achieve accreditation and certification in hospice and palliative care
Encourage more comprehensive discharge planning
Increase public awareness about the importance of end-of-life planning
I just love the term “palliative care.” Palliative care sounds like a compassionate service to assist the aged to comfortably live out the rest of their lives. Well, it is actually an intrusion upon the beliefs and faith of the elderly person. Taken right from their website at GetPalliativeCare.org, here are the facts:
A team of experts, including palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers, provide palliative care. Chaplains, massage therapists (massage therapists??) pharmacists, nutritionists and others might also be part of the team. Typically, you get non-hospice palliative care in the hospital through a palliative care program. Working in partnership with your primary doctor, the palliative care team provides:
• Expert treatment of pain and other symptoms
• Close, clear communication (yelling?)
• Help navigating the healthcare system
• Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
• Detailed practical information and assistance
• Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
Yay! I get to spend the end of my life in a hospital surrounded by strangers! I’ll be guided or manipulated, whether I want it or not! I’ll be barraged with detailed, practical information, which should give me just enough time to do what I don’t want. And I and my family will receive “emotional and spiritual support.” This just sickens me.
First of all, my doctor and I already have a partnership. We have mapped out a program which manages my pain, diabetes, and the nausea that many medicines cause. We’ve had a close, clear communication for years, and she has earned my trust. She is not a stranger. Also, being a retired military family, believe me, we know about navigating the healthcare system.
Okay, here’s one of my favorites: “Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices.” Oh, come on, like I’m not already doing that. Or like I’m going to trust some stranger. Do you know how many doctors I’ve fired who wanted, I guess, to buy a boat, or a pony, or a jet plane, or whatever, all centered around invasive, ridiculous, often dangerous procedures. Most of us, by the time we reach retirement age, know what our symptoms are, and if we’re computer friendly, we have memorized the list of available medicines for treatment, and their side effects.
Here is the bottom line for me. I receive emotional and spiritual support from my family, you know, my husband, children, dogs, cats, gardening, writing, keeping active, and a personal, intimate relationship with God! My husband loves me, adores me, and his sheltering arms are the comfort I need. My children cherish every moment they spend with me. Perhaps we are a special family, a blessed family, but I know many other families who hate the idea of having strangers make decisions or manipulate their beloved spouse, parent or grandparent.
So, now you know, if this bill is passed, I…and you…will have more interference than we ever wanted…near or at the end of our lives. And who gets to vote on just exactly what that is? According to this bill? Them. You know, the present day “them” and the unknown, future “them.” In Germany, 1931, the future “them” turned out to be Hitler.
Mark Warner is a good man, but “good” does not always translate into wisdom. This bill has no wisdom in it. It’s a callous device. Callousness is often cloaked in kindness, as in requiring a doctor to coerce an elderly person into signing a “living will.” Which is actually a “dying” will, prepared while you are still breathing. Let me see, do I want them to starve me or remove fluids, so that I die of thirst, experiencing that “blissful death” I’ve heard way too much about in recent years?
So, no. This is a bill that I hope will fail. I hope that God sends angels to the terminally ill, and to those who are aged and alone and dependent upon so-called “compassionate strangers.” And for those of us who resent intrusion, may God protect us and guide us into wisdom and strength.
Father in heaven, I know that none of us has wisdom, but You have given us intellects and hearts to understand right from wrong. Help us, Lord, to set apart partisan politics and work together for the good of our country. Help us to weed out the hysteria, which has overtaken our elective process. Lead us, dear God, into a righteous tomorrow. Grant us peace now, and at the end of our lives.