Aimee Copeland Breaks And Pleads For Painkillers

June 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm (aimee copeland, bravery, christina symanski, coping, death with dignity, meditation and pain, pain medication, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

for weeks now aimee copeland has been in the news.  about a week ago the headline for the Huffington Post stated that Aimee had  now asked for the morphine doctors had been offering her for the pain she was experiencing.  here is a little about her if you  have not heard before now. though her father has not characterized her decision as “pleading” that is how the headline ran.

It was nearly seven weeks ago that Copeland sustained a cut on her calf during a fall from a homemade zip line over a west Georgia river. She was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, an infection from a rare flesh-eating bacteria. Doctors were forced to amputate her left leg, right foot and hands. The Georgia student, 24, originally refused pain medications due in part to her personal convictions and graduate-school background in holistic pain management techniques. Her preferred method of dealing with the pain was meditation, but that has done little to assuage the sting of skin grafts and muscle flaps that were necessary

“I am blessed to be able to have a challenge that not many others get to have,” Copeland’s father wrote, quoting Aimee. “I am blessed to have the capacity to share my experience with others and have a chance to improve the quality of someone else’s life. I’m blessed to be different.”

when reading this short article my mind wandered back to the young woman who through an accident of adventure had become a quadriplegic. this young woman had been sort of the poster girl for the disabled.  she was an artist, gave speeches, was active in the christopher reeve organization and seemed to be moving on with her life “bravely” as some might say.  tragically she ended her life.  she decided her life was not worth living the way it was.  she was in pain and yet it would seem the psychic pain was perhaps the breaker.  the organizations for the right to die with dignity used this as an example of why we need to change our laws.  the disabled were outraged that she was used in this way.  there is such difference between  someone who is terminally ill, has no chance of recovery, and someone who is disabled. this does not in my opinion make the case for death with dignity.  it was her  dignity at issue for her, however, was her inability to accept dignity in a different form the heart of the problem?

it is my deepest wish that Aimee is allowed to be weak without making headlines.  if asking for pain medication is a weakness at all.  meditation is a tool to be used and as corny as it sounds it is just one tool in the tool box.  her family is suffering as is this young woman. she made a decision out of youthful exuberance and is now paying a heavy price.  my heart goes out to her and if i could say anything to her it would be to embrace her tears as well as her joys.  sometimes bravery is crying and accepting the pain medication.

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time magazine and how to die

June 10, 2012 at 3:29 am (death with dignity, doctors, dr. peter goodwin, dying, end stage, joe klein, living will, rights of the dying, time magazine and how to die, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Dr. Peter Goodwin was an activist and used the law he helped to pass in his own death.  Goodwin gave lectures and interviews as long as he was able about the  importance of advance directives at the end of life as well as open and frank  discussion with loved ones. He wanted the end of life to be as gentle as  possible and within the patient’s control. He was also a big advocate of  allowing dying people to receive hospice care early, rather than letting doctors  continually try to cure them. “Physicians are taught to treat, and they often go  on treating and treating and treating,” he said. “It’s very, very difficult  because they have so much in their armamentarium — so many new ways of treating  cancer, so many new ways of treating heart disease — it’s very difficult for  physicians to give up.”
Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/14/peter-goodwin-the-dying-doctors-last-interview/#ixzz1xGEBQm11

a man named joe klein wrote an article describing the journey of his parents deaths.  in one part he discusses the hospital his father was in and how it was such different experience since the drs are not fee based.  as goodwin mentions in his interview and article, there is a push for drs under fee based practices to do tests that are not really of benefit except to make people feel like “more” is being done.  at some point there is no more to be done.  drs at the hospital in PA told him his father was in kidney failure and even if they could pull him through this time it would only be a matter of weeks before he would be in the same situation and there would not be anything to do for him.  it was left to them to make a decision of how they wanted to move forward.  standard procedure requires patients or families to decide whether they want a “do not resuscitate” order or not. 

a so-called reporter alex jones who rants and raves about the article does his best to mislead the audience.  after just minutes of watching this rush limbaugh want to be, it was clear how uninformed he truly is. what makes me sad is to think of the people who will see him and take his word rather than investigate or read the article.  it is merely a tirade on “socialized” medicine.  which of course we already have so ????

more nonsense  can be found in online sites that misrepresent themselves such as the health ranger.  this is their lead in:  The Health Ranger discusses the new TIME Magazine issue entitled, “How to Die!” which promotes death panels, killing the elderly to save money (and earn bonuses!).

mr. klein observes that the drs who were not being paid to do more procedures and consult with yet another dr without asking the family. the same family that will be paying for all that consulting.  the level of candor, sanity, and humanity from these drs he dealt with was stunningly high. 

this is something some will not benefit from. the drs will order more tests and more specialists until the last breath is taken or it is too late to preserve the patients dignity.  one of my many blessings has been to have a dr who puts the individual patient and their desire before anything else.  he is honest and candid, my trust in him has been earned.  it would be hope for all terminally ill patients to have a doctor like mine.  he understands who i am and how i want to die.  he also knows how i want to live. 

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the waiting can be exhausting

June 5, 2012 at 2:26 am (dying, end stage, end stage congestive heart failure, family, feelings and thoughts, gratitude, how does it feel to die, life is random, survivor guilt, waiting) (, , , , , , , , )

getting texts from middle sister with updates on the mother.  much like Pavlov’s dog the muted ding on my phone elicits the intake of breath.  it is not from calif so release the breath.  it is from calif so just look at the first few words, okay so far, so finish the text.  a call from nephew and a stillness, his voice lets me know that it is not the news we are all expecting any day now.  some texts ask if this or that is normal under the circumstances.  middle sister and nephew are not in the medical field.  they are not like younger sister and myself.  their lives are much different from ours.  they are the least prepared for this task and yet they are the ones called on now.  the only thing to do, reasonably, is be a support for them.

as much as my mind dismisses this and seeks to maintain focus on her it is at times a challenge. it is a challenge not to feel my own death coming and wondering if it will be similar.  would i make the same choices? the toll on those around her lead me down the path my own family will take in the not too distant future.  one question that snaps at my heels, like the crazy border collie nora, why not me?  she was diagnosed long after my own heart failure, she was able to have heart surgery to repair what can never be repaired in my own.  the man who had the same condition and device leaves his family months ago and yet here i am.  survivors guilt is a term anyone in the mental health field is familiar with.  to know what it is did indeed help me through some tough times.  after much searching it is hard to call this survivors guilt.  though it is a question likely to never be answered it is not guilt that i feel so much as how does this happen? does it go back to life just being random?  is there a flow to this not seen from so close?  is more required of me before i am released?  so many are deserving and at times though grateful for the sentiment, it is too cliché to say i am needed or i have a great attitude.  so many others are more needed than one like me, others want  to live as much while some have proven their value to the world.

it is humbling and awe-inspiring to wake each morning and think here is another day given.  another kiss from my love, another smile to share, another day  to wait and bear witness to the passing of another human being.

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