At a ripe, young age of 52, I have experienced both the quick, unexpected loss of friends and family, as well as the slow, lingering, painful, disgustingly slow, (did I say slow) and agonizing death of many elder family and friends. Frankly, if I were in their shoes, I choose the former.
When you look into the eyes of a terminal case, knowing that pain wracks their bodies every single minute, and that current FDA rules preclude their doctor from providing large enough doses of opiates to deal with their pain, you know our system is fucked up. The FDA’s response? THEY WILL BECOME ADDICTED!
Pardon mois? A terminal case, often non-communicative, mostly inert, dying, immobile, pain-ridden, future corpse, with no chance of survival BECOMES AN ADDICT? Talk about moronic maroon morans. Who the hell cares? Give them what they need. Anything else is simply cruel.
It only gets worse. A very good friend is an administrator at a large, Chicago-based, educational medical center. She has the inside numbers. Her speciality causes her to treat those in critical care. And her findings are horrific.
Here is the bald, uncomfortable truth: 40% of every individual’s health care costs - for your entire lifetime – are incurred in the last month of life. Wrap your head around that fact for a bit. People who have no chance of survival, people in unremitting, constant, and horrific pain (with inadequate pain relief) people in irreversible comas, and brain-dead corpses that can only be maintained by our great new technologies, THESE PEOPLE EAT UP 40% of the total costs of the total health care costs for every single person in America. Medical costs incurred when there is absolutely no hope for remission or survival. And not just for them, individually, but for every American.
Some reasons are scary, others are simply criminal. In one case she described, many expensive machines were keeping "alive" a corpse, a collection of otherwise inanimate flesh, a brainless, thoughtless piece of maggot food, because of the family’s religious views.
In several other cases, the pension or disability income for the future corpse was so large, that they refused to even consider disconnecting a brain dead parent or loved one. And they threaten to sue.
In other cases, people simply had no clue that their loved ones’ conditions were a one way street. There was no magic cure. There was not future technology that would cure them. They would linger, often in pain, until even the machines could not keep a lump of flesh alive any further.
40% of all health care costs incurred in the last month of life. Per person.
Let’s repeat that horrific fact. 40% of all health care costs incurred in the last month of life. Per person.
And now the translation: At the end of all too many people’s lives, there is no hope of a cure. There is no possibility of further normal life. There is nothing ahead but death. And frankly, most of the sufferers would welcome the end. Except their families refuse.
Think of the wasted resources. We have comatose people in line for transplants, even though a new kidney, heart or lung will not reverse their fatal condition. We have brain-dead lumps of inanimate flesh wasting the most expensive, high tech, and rather rare and dear machinery, keeping those machines away from newly injured or diseased folks who could actually gain a huge benefit from their intended use. And worst of all, we keep people alive who really have no interest in more pain and suffering.
To some extent, Senator Grassley is correct. We DO need to talk about death panels. Because our society has a very strong need for them.
Too many people fail to have wills, much less powers of attorney, living wills, or written instructions of how to deal with their ultimately fatal conditions. A death panel would solve much of that, and lower health care costs tremendously.
a) If you are brain dead, pull the plug. Any other response is sick and inhuman.
b) If your disease is terminal, provide adequate levels of pain meds to STOP THE EFFING PAIN. Period. And if an OD by choice provide the ultimate relief, well, that is their choice.
c) If shyteheels are keeping a family member alive, solely by artificial means, and for the sole reason that they gain financially by keeping an individual alive, fine. They can continue to do so. BUT EVERY CENT FOR TREATMENT COMES OUT OF THEIR POCKETS.
There are other suggestions and recommendations, but I suspect that these few points might excite a few folks.