July 14, 2006

Hot Under the Collar

And hot everywhere else, too. With high humidity and projected triple digit temps, Minnesota is clearly not always nice!

We don't have A/C, so we plan to spend most of the next few days in places which are.

Which is why I will wait until next week to explain my personal reasons for being so enraged by this particular news item, which relates the struggle cancer patient Abraham Cherrix and his parents are waging in order to be allowed to decide their own fate (and treatment).

Note particularly that because the family involved did not agree with 'their' doctors, the state (which can be counted on to support the position of the state-run hospital and its employees) has been given 'joint custody' of the young man involved... which means that both he and his parents will not be allowed to make any decision that isn't in lockstep with that of the Authorities.

It's one more illustration of a disturbing trend in our medical, judicial and political systems, a situation rendered all the more weird and frightening when one looks at the concurrent trend towards lack of personal responsibility and honesty in both our personal and our public lives.

We need to start thinking very hard about just how far we, as a society and as individuals, are willing to go when we take the position that We Are Our Brother's/Sister's Keepers. The consequences are huge... and unfortunately easy to ignore until it's too late for you or your loved ones.

Martin Niemöller wrote, "Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." It's not always easy to identify who 'they' are, especially when They Are Us.


Blogger Carrie K said...

Oh, what a terrible place to be in. That poor family.

And it's not one of those things that one can unilaterally make a law en masse about. It's got to be case by case. You can't let some whackjob let their child die of some hideous disease because God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the neighbor's dog said that they should.

But then again, if there's been serious medical consultation, informed consent and somebody involved (guardian, etc) has all their faculties, their wishes should be respected.

2:40 PM  
Blogger mE said...

The problem is very much in the interpretation of 'whackjob', and who is given the right to make that interpretive decision.

See the posts I will write in the coming week re this...

9:49 PM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

Too true. Although if they're listening to the neighbor's dog for medical advice, I stand by my diagnosis of whackjob.

Hmmm. The more I think about that, the more it's true. (Your statement.) Who does determine who's a whackjob & what criteria is used?

6:04 PM  
Blogger mrspao said...

It's a very difficult position for both sides. Is the age of consent 18 over there or 21? I remember a case over here where some parents fought in court to keep their daughter on life support when the doctors wanted to pull the plug. They won and she is still alive a couple of years later.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

seems like a basic human rights violation, doesn't it?
the kid seems of sound mind and knows his own body and just doesn't want to go through with it.
imagine being "forced" to go through chemotherapy!
he might as well be a primate in a lab for all the rights he has.
here is a link to the alternative therapy, though, and frankly, it doesn't seem based on solid cause-and-effect research:

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that I have been forced to seek thyroid meds for my mom (whose doctor won't give her the high T3/low T4 combination that makes her feel the best) on the online drug black market.
I don't know what she would do without them - she is doing it without her doctor's approval or consent, but feels that she is doing the right thing, and I agree entirely with her, having scanned the research on the subject and observed that endocrinologists seem to be behind the 8-ball on this one.
I just hope that there will continue to be "other places to go" for those of us who do not get satisfaction from the U.S. medical system.

12:13 AM  
Blogger mE said...

I agree that the alternative therapy chosen looks dubious. On the other hand, he's already gone through hell and back for a treatment that seems less so, and only got two months of relief in exchange.

Hell, there isn't much that seems more dubious than homeopathy (the strongest dosages are the ones that no longer have even a molecular trace of the therapeutic herb... does that make any sense at all?) and yet in europe/uk homeopathy is paid for by the national health service and it's considered by many to be the most effective treatment for allergies available. Certainly I've had good results for some issues with homeopathic treatment.

And really, how much sense does chemo make on the face of it? "We don't know why you've got this stuff, but you do. So we're going to kill your immune system by poisoning you nearly to death, in hopes that a new (and weaker) immune system will be able to grow without also growing the malevolent stuff that your stronger immune system was unable to manage when you were otherwise healthy and strong. Of course, at the same time you will be unable to fight the stuff a normal immune system would take care of, so you might get killed off by a cold, or a minor infection. But we've decided it's worth the risk. Prepay, of course."

So who are we (or the medical and legal system) to label one thing hogwash over another, when the 'legitimate' option has already been tried and failed... and then take away the individual's (and parents') right to choose for himself his probably-useless treatment?

9:18 AM  

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