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Quality of Life vs. Longevity

March 9, 2010

I’ve watched three beloved family members die from years-long debilitating diseases.  They had three options:

1) Receive health care to prolong their lives and extend their suffering,

2) Receive hospice that would not prolong life and try to ease suffering, or

3) Do nothing and die long, agonizing deaths.

Why isn’t there a fourth option?  To receive health care that elevates quality of life at the expense of prolonging that life.

Because of my family history, I have a strong likelihood of wasting away slowly.  There is a certain point where I would happily take drugs that will amp me up while burning me out.  Now, clearly, this would be an alternative for terminally ill people with no hope of restoration to health.  Self-diagnosed or depressed individual couldn’t take the route, and I’m not talking about euthanasia; it wouldn’t be treatment to kill the patient, it would be treatment whose goal is to restore a semblance of real life instead of extending life.

Is this wrong?  Are not three weeks of good days better than a year of suffering?  Slippery slope aside, on its own merits, should this be legal?  (Yes, Nurse Mike, you now have to post.)

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