Albert Einstein, said time is our convenient fantasy, and hey who am I to argue with a genius? But the fact of the matter is that we are born and enter the stream of time.
If we live long enough we start to deteriorate. We wear out, get diseased and have trouble functioning. This is where we enter the health care field. These are full of dedicated and caring individuals and I love them all, but sometimes they do not want to listen.
A few generations ago the word of the doctor was seen as from God’s ear to his and nobody even thought of questioning it. Times have changed, we now have federal legislation that says we can ask, in certain cases, for end of life care.
It doesn't go far enough but it will, at least it shows the trend. This must be terribly hard for doctors, who are not used to being asked to end a life.
The trend though shows that people are thinking that they now have choices and they do.The medical field is one of the few where men and women get exactly the same training and gender is not a factor in compensation.
I hate to generalize, but men are from Mars and women are from Venus. My experience, which forms my opinion, and it is an opinion, is that male doctors sometimes let ego get into their treatments and that females are more empathetic. It’s not a hard and fast rule.
There will come a time when treatment is a tradeoff. If you go along with the treatment, then you will not be able to do some of the things you now enjoy doing, but you may live longer.
Some of us will opt for the chance at a longer life and forgo the things they enjoy doing, and that is great.
There is another group of us, and I am in that group, that want to shake the dice and take our chances. I have things I enjoy doing that lead to enhancing my quality of life and I don't want to give them up until I absolutely have to.
My thesis is that it is my body and I should be the one in control. It should be my decision, and I will qualify this, by saying after I have researched the pitfalls of my decision, and understand them, I will never be egotistical enough to think I have the same knowledge as my doctors, they know far and away more than I do. But it is still my decision.
There is a theory, which I believe, that people who commit suicide are people who believe they have no power and control in life. The only power and control they have is their own body. They have the power to shut it down and the control to do it. If enough stress enters their lives they will think this is their only option.
People need choices. If you don't think you can be happy with a lower level of functioning, it is within your rights to refuse to comply. Does it matter if you are as well informed about the consequences of your choice as you possibly can be? No, but get all the facts you can from your doctor. They are concerned and compassionate people and they have your best interests at heart, but you are in charge. It’s your choice.
Walter Jones’ column appears weekly in the Amherst News.