Don’t Torture the Dying
The constitution of India guarantees life with dignity as a fundamental right. Generally speaking we all enjoy this right but it all changes when we get an incurable disease or we wither and die of old age.In those circumstances,we should still have the right to live the way we want to and die where we want to. But we find that we no longer have any choice.
In India as we near end of life we cease to be treated as human beings and become mere containers of disease. It is not easy to understand the degree of assault on dignity by inappropriate medical treatment in incurable diseases. Even if one is fully alert and able to make decisions for oneself one is stripped of that privelege.
Whether it is advanced cancer or just a state of nearing death out of natural circumstances the family takes over and makes decisions and the ‘patient” is bundled into a hospital despite refusals. There in turn the family loses control. hospital protocol takes over and transfers the patient to an intensive care unit.
In his last days , when one should be with the loving family with a gentle touch ,one finds himself isolated from dear ones when they are needed the most. At a time when the deepest desire is to see the grandchild once more and to bestow a kiss on his cheek, one finds that children are not permitted into the holy intensive care unit.
The immediate family is allowed in for five minutes twice a day but they are afraid to touch ; the body is literally covered with cables; there are alarms screeching. Even when everyone knows that the patient is dying, a tube is inserted into every orifice in the body. If the patient tries pulling out the cables because of inconvenience the doctor complains ” the patient is not co-operative.” Among the many tubes, one is likely to be passing through the voice box into the wind pipe. These are some of the most sensitive parts of the body.A catheter is pushed into to aspirate mucus and it is one of the most painful things one can experience. The mouth is covered with an oxygen mask and there is no one next to the patient to hear to his sufferings . No one to give him water. Infact he cannot speak beacuse of so many medical equipment suffocating him.Imagine “a red hot iron pushed into you and twisted as it is withdrawn” as one person described it. you have never known that such pain was possible , it is beyond the average person’s power of imagination.The patient longs for peace to shut the eyes but it is prevented by a permanently lighted room with no distinction between night and day.( Does that remind you of torture chambers)
Fear overcomes the person; there is an urge to know what is happening but the tube in the voice box prevents him from speaking and no one bothers to give any information.When one panics and tries to pull out the tubes the nurses bind the hands and the feet. The right to life with dignity is violated in the cruelest way.
Of course an ICU can dramatically save lives but it is also the most horrendous infliction of suffering and violation of human dignity in the context of incurable illness.We should be able to recognize that death is the inevitable consequence of life and that the person should be allowed to go with as much dignity as possible.
It is an experience which most of us will face or some may have faced. The loved ones are pained to see the horrendous pain that their loved ones go through while in the ICU.
Once a father said to his daughter “Get me out of here if you love me .I don’t want to die like this . This is worse than death.I want to die in peace . Please give me that freedom and right ”
It is such a painful experience.
Originally posted 2016-06-20 07:23:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter