Brother David sent an email saying Joan had been removed from Villa Del Nortes and put back in the hospital at 3 am this morning. The nurse had called saying they thought Joan had only a few more hours, so David and Sister-in-Law Teresa drove up to Escondido to the hospital.
As the day wore on (and it was wearing) every time the phone or my cell went off I was sure David would say that Joan had moved on. But as of 6 pm, this Monday, she has not. At the Villa she had been turning blue but with the hospital equipment she has done better; the doctor asked David if it was OK if he tried to make Joan more comfortable. David said OK and so Joan is on a morphine drip.
The morphine drip for me signifies the end. Indeed, the doctor does feel Joan will never return to the Villa; instead if she does recover enough to leave the hospital she will be sent to “hospice” care. Of course, we in America know next to nothing about palliative medicine, so in SD there is only one real hospice. Instead, people are sent to “homes” that have 24 hour nurses and these apparently qualify legally as hospice care.
We are barbarians. Something needs to be done immediately to allow the elderly some determination of their destiny. By this I mean, the elderly should be allowed, with minimum interference from a physician, to purchase drugs that would allow them to end their own lives at the instant of their choosing.
As Walter Benjamin said, to date there has been no act of civilization that has not equally been an act of barbarism. This is the case with modern medicine as practiced in the United States.
I expect that laws will be changed. The yuppies are coming of dying age; they are pretty vocal and well financed, at least for the time being. Our sheer numbers and the weight we will place on the medical system will lead some to see the legalization of euthanasia as one way to get rid of the decaying elderly with more dispatch.