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Saturday, November 4, 2000

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Futile care & apt hunting

Today we were suppose to have some rain but it didn't look bad when I ventured out this morning so I decided to look at a few apartments. I took the Speedway bus all the way east on Speedway and enjoyed the varied crowd that got off and on. Speedway is not the nicest area till you get east of Wilmot and beyond the strip joints right on Speedway you get lower priced apartments.

Many of the people on the bus seemed to know each other, even on a Saturday, which was interesting. The driver even seemed to know how to deal with a few people that weren't too with it. I usually see very old people who barely seem to be able to manage on their own on this bus. One old man was at a bus stop with his wife. She waved to him and walked off when the bus came. A couple people on the bus were very worried since they had never seen him without her, but he seemed to know what to do, even if he couldn't hear the driver, and got off where he was suppose to.

We crossed Wilmot and entered a classier part of town. This is an area that has some very nice housing areas and the stores have followed them. Just before Pantano I saw an apartment complex and stopped to check it out. Very nice! It's a little more than I wanted to pay but each apartment has it's own balcony and all kinds of storage. I could jump on the bus just north of work and get off in front of the apartment. The Speedway bus also runs more frequently and later than most of the buses. And it's right next to a shopping center, and grocery store, without actually being able to see the shopping center. Nice.

It started to sprinkle as I finished there and was soon pouring. I took refuge in the shopping center and the rain soon slowed so I decided to walk down Pantano and see the apartments there. Well it continued to rain and all the apartments were on the other side of the street. I had to walk way in from the sidewalk to keep from getting splashed by the fairly heavy traffic and couldn't get a break in traffic to get across the street. I'll have to try that another time.

By the time I reached Broadway I was ready to give up apartment hunting till a dry day. I walked west a little to check out Pantano wash. They have some asphalt down along the wash but it's very minimal compared to Rillito's riverpark. The rain started to pour at this point so I hurried to a covered bus stop and waited for the bus which I took to Park Place mall.

It was good to get out of the rain and it seemed like lots of people wanted to as the mall was crowded. They have done such a nice job of remodeling Park Place (I keep wanting to just say Park Mall which was it's name for years) and have some very nice new stores in. They have these overstuffed armchairs, instead of benches, for people to sit it and huge arches to walk under. The only part they are still working on is the eating area so there aren't many places to get a snack.

I wandered through Border's huge store and picked up a couple magazines. I wanted to stop for a cup of tea in their coffee shop but it was very crowded so I caught the bus home. It was nice to get in my own apartment and get warm.

I read an article about Futile Care. More and more hospitals are refusing to extend care to patients that the doctors feel don't have a sufficient quality of life to bother with. There is a strong movement to not give the family the option of stopping life support by never allowing life support to start. This is often justified by saying the the patients don't know what is happening even though studies show that there is a 40% misdiagnosis of the patients inability to know. Brain damaged people could be denied care and doomed to dehydrate to death without the consent of the family.

The dehydration is what bothers me most about my mother. I know they said they tried to feed her and give her water but I don't know how much they managed to give her and dying of thirst is one of my nightmares (along with burning to death). I still feel very uncomfortable that they took the tubes for water from her even though my father said ok. I'm not sure if he really understood what it involved.

The issue of how much the patient knows is one that bothers me as more and more they are finding out that the patient knows more than we realize. I have nightmares about lying in a hospital bed, unable to move or speak and knowing that I will be just left there to die of hunger and thirst. Just because you can't communicate doesn't mean you want to die. Most people would say that my mother for the last five years of her life had no "quality of life" but she would respond, sometimes, and when Dan and his kids were there and sang to her, she smiled and hummed. We don't know what kind of life she had because she was not able to communicate it. As long as you're alive there's a chance but once your're dead, your're dead.

I find this whole Futile Care movement very scary since the choices are taken away from the family and given to doctors, who quite frankly aren't going to care. What are they going to define as quality of life? Will all mental asylum patients be just left to die? Will children with Down's Syndrome, etc., just be left to die because we don't want to spend money on them? Because some elite group has decided they aren't fit to live?

The HMOs are already cutting back on services to people, they would love the chance to just let people die. We won't get any help from them. We won't get any help from a government that is paying for health are, should we go to universal health care. There are thousands upon thousands of people that don't have what most people would consider a good "quality of life" who are living full, rich lives. Would they have been allowed to die? Even now so many people who could live good lives are dead through abortion because their parents were told, and believed, that it would just be too much of an inconvenience to bother with them. Where will "quality of life" stop? What happens when people aborting children who "might be homosexual"?

I still grieve for my mother. I know she would be bedridden for the rest of her life and the antibiotics weren't doing any good, but I just hope she was comfortable. I hope she didn't realize what was happening.

I hope a hospital administrator doesn't decide that I'm not fit to live because they don't want to spend the money.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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