Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Reposting Rethinking

I am never setting foot inside the elementary school again. Ever. Beause I swear, every time I spend more than 6.5 seconds breathing the germ ridden miasma that passes for air in that place, I end up sick. I spent 2 hours on Friday at the welcome desk, and I am now, sick as the proverbial dog. You know that kind of sick where your eyeballs feel like they are on fire and your chest feels as though someone is tearing open your sternum with a chainsaw every time you draw breath and your bones ache down to the very marrow? Cakewalk.

I thought I could write something decent to post, but my fever addled brain can scarcely formulate a coherent thought. It was all I could do to feed my kids breakfast and make sure they faked brushing their teeth. SO...I tried to find something to repost that ya'll haven't read 47 times. I chose "Rethinking the Right to Die". It's not one of my high profile posts, so I'm hoping that some of you haven't read it. If you have, my apologies. Koff. Koff.

Rethinking the Right to Die

I have been trying, without success, to write a piece called "The Right to Die". The piece was going to be about how science and medicine have blurred the lines that nature has drawn between life and death. I was going to opine upon how man, with vainglorious certainty, has circumvented the safety measures nature put into place to ensure the integrity and longevity of our species.

I was going to cite cases like that of Terry Schiavo, Juliana Wetmore, and Johnny Kennedy, and how these cases clearly illustrate that just because we can save or prolong a life does not mean that we should. I was going to denounce the selfishness and cruelty of condemning a person to life of pain and suffering, or vegetative nothingness.

But I'm not going to do that. There are two reasons.

First, my children are happy, healthy and whole. The most pressing medical issue we have had to face is whether or not to have tonsils removed. My husband has never been seriously ill or injured. My parents are still with me, and although my mother has a chronic illness that will eventually take her life, she is not in immediate danger. I have never had to decide whether someone I love should live or die. I have never had to wrestle with the decision to extinguish the life growing within me because it is flawed in some way. I have never faced the prospect of living my own life with a big, aching, empty hole in it.

I like to think I would be strong enough to let them go if their quality of life was so seriously diminished as to be devoid of all dignity and humanity. I like to think that my need to have them with me would not infringe upon my ability to make a sound decision. I like to think I would have the courage to grant them the peace that death would bring.

But if I am completely honest, I have to admit that I, like most of us, would give and do anything for just a little more time with someone I love. I would beg and plead. I would sell everything I own. I would offer my own life, surrender my own dignity. I would prevail upon every medical miracle available. I would even pray. I would promise a God I have doubted and ignored my undying loyalty and devotion if only he would let them live. So I can't, in all good conscience, criticize someone for a choice I would likely make myself, despite the knowledge that it might be the wrong one.

The second reason is a little more difficult to explain.

In gathering my thoughts about this piece, I solicited the opinions of some friends. These friends are mothers, and they have among them, an Autistic child, a premature child, and a child who was born with Spina Bifida. They helped me to see that "Quality of Life" is so highly subjective that it defies measurement and therefore, we cannot simply create a list of qualifications by which we determine the validity of existence. We cannot assign a standard by which to assess its value. And we cannot deny the fact that worth lies in perception, which is as widely varied as human beings themselves.

Who can say why a person is put here and what purpose has been set forth for them? Who gets to say that a life is sufficiently devoid of merit as to justify its termination? Who defines the terms by which we would govern those decisions? Me? You? Doctors, Lawyers? God?

In thinking about all this, I was taken back to my oldest child's infancy. There were several of us in the neighborhood with new babies. All of them looked and acted like any healthy infant should; all except Zach. His hair was flaxen blonde and his eyes were the purest cornflower blue. From the eyebrows down he was the most beautiful child I've ever laid eyes on, and when he had a hat on (which was most of the time) he looked like any other baby. But if one looked a little closer, they would see that his beautiful blue eyes were curiously vacant and that his hat seemed unusually large upon such a tiny little body. But sadly the hat was filled with his head, which was terribly misshapen by Hydrocephalus.

Zach, like my son, was born when prenatal diagnostics were becoming widely used and available. But somehow his condition was not detected until birth and the damage to his poor little brain was catastrophic. It was difficult at such a young age to determine how much awareness he really had, but the doctors felt that beyond feeling basic physical sensations such as cold, wet, hunger, and pain, he had very little sentience. He was completely blind, and would never walk or talk or have control of his bladder and bowels. I felt tremendously sad looking at him, as I contemplated the hopelessness and pointlessness of his existence.

His mother would bring him to our little gal pal group and set his seat among the rest of the babies. As they grew and became mobile they struck out eagerly to explore their surroundings while Zach remained confined to his seat. But curiously, they would return every now and then to bring him a toy, offer him a little pat, and inquire in sweet nonsensical baby babble, if he needed anything. They were taking care of him. They were learning compassion and empathy and acceptance from a child who was scarcely conscious. And I realized then that his existence was not as pointless as I had naively supposed. So he had taught me something as well, and I suspected that he would teach a great deal more before his time on this earth came to an end.

So...I won't talk about the Right to Die. I won't attempt to define Quality of Life. I won't pretend to have the solution to an issue that is largely philosophical. Instead I will simply try to recognize the inherent worth of all who share this plane of existence with us. And if the time ever comes that I need to make a life or death decision, I will try to be strong, but I will forgive myself for being weak.

In the absence of any clear cut answers, I think it's all that we can do.


  • At 9:04 AM, Blogger Karyn said…

    Here here.

    Or hear, here.

    Hear hear?

    Here, hear?

    Whatever. Can I get an "AMEN"?

    And let's not forget your right to NyQuil. Get some sleep, sister!

  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger OhTheJoys said…

    For someone who has feverish eyeballs and wasn't going to get a great post together because of it...GAH! You totally ROCK.

  • At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hadn't read this, so I'm glad you reposted it. It's so easy to think of what we would do if placed in a situation to have to make such a difficult choice. But no one really knows how they'll feel. We can imagine how we'll feel, but I know from past experiences that when faced with situations about which I'd dreamed or imagined, like being pregnant for instance, I know that I couldn't possibly suppose how I'd feel until such a situation was really upon me.

    Hope you're feeling better soon.

  • At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is wonderful and as someone who has medical power of attorney for her mother who also has a life ending disease, I will have to make the choice, at some point in my life, to end that of my Mother's. We have had many discussion as to what circumstances will lead me to sign the papers and those have been some of the toughest conversations I have ever had.

    Thanks you for sharing your voice, I am sure I will come back to read again.

    I hope you feel better!!!

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Bea said…

    What a beautiful, necessary post. I've been wanting to post something like this, and didn't know where to begin. Thanks for doing it for me.

  • At 7:35 PM, Blogger Chunky said…

    Thx for making me think...

  • At 7:39 PM, Blogger Amie Adams said…

    That was beautifully written piece.

    What I came away with is that decisions like that are beyond difficult. I would NEVER make the decision for someone else, as it would be difficult enough to make if I had to concerning my loved ones. I feel I must respect the choice of those who are affected.

    As with the abortion issue; however, shouldn't we consider the option of personal choice? Not a choice made by politicians, but with family/loved ones, doctors and personal religious counselors?

    For me the the issue is not about what the correct decision is, but about who has the right to make that choice.

    Sending virtual chicken soup your way. Feel better. I can't wait for more thought provoking posts!

  • At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for the reminder that both Kyle and I need to finalize our wills and living wills.

    I think it would be easier to abide by what Kyle wants or what I want than it would be to make a decision in the supposed best interest of my children. I can hardly bear to imagine the difficulty; the closest we ever came was waiting for Tacy's amnio results (her 20-week u/s showed markers for chromosomal abnormality). If the results had shown that there was an actual abnormality, what would we have done? I have no idea.

  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger Pendullum said…

    I've had to walk the walk.

    My best friend had cancer and I was supposed to pull the plug if I thought the quality of life was not there after his surgery...

    I can not tell you how hard it was to agree to it...

    One of the hardest things I have ever agreed to do if it had to be done...

    Luckily, he pulled through while I was on watch...
    He lived three years from that day and when the quality of life was definitely in question, where I with his brothers had to make that decision for him... He died fifteen minutes before we had to make the choice...
    I am grateful for that...

  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    That was really beautiful, but very hard to read. My Brother and I both had to respect our parents wishes to take them off of life support. I do not regret that decision, but it was terribly difficult. It is a very complicated emotional terrain...

  • At 12:26 AM, Blogger Bobita said…

    Wow. This post was beautiful.

    I have a friend whose son broke his neck while playing in a football game...he was in a coma for several weeks before she and her husband pulled the plug.

    Watching someone go through that, just tore me up. It was amazing the impact it had on our whole group of friends. After that we all hugged our kids more, spent more time with them, read the long books at bedtime, went out of our way to cherish our beloved children. Because we all understood the tragedy, and felt the myriad emotions.

    The only thing worse than witnessing a close friend go through such a devastation would have been me...looking at my own son's lifeless face, struggling with the same decision. I shudder at the thought. (But am nonetheless grateful that it is just a thought, not an experience.)


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