Sunday, August 13, 2006

Now That's What You Call Ironic

How Faith Saved the Atheist This is an article by Pamela Winnick about visiting her 85-year-old father in the ICU, being constantly badgered by the "Death with Dignity" crowd in the form of residents and attending physicians.
Though unconscious, his brain, as far as anyone could tell, had not been touched by either the cancer or the blood clot. He was not in a "persistent vegetative state" (itself a phrase subject to broad interpretation), that magic point at which family members are required to pull the plug -- or risk the accusation that they are right-wing Christians.
The strategy she devised for fending off the vultures was to them the family was Orthodox Jews, a religion that forbids the abandonment of care. It worked, "Dr. Death" and her resident minions shut up about "death with dignity."

Her father recovered enough to get out the ICU, sit in a chair and read the NY Times. He will never be well - he has advanced lung cancer - but he was not ready to die.

The last 2 times I have had any contact with end-of-life care for family members, the attitude of the doctors were skewed in almost the exact other directions. Convinced that they cure anything, the doctors wanted to do surgery after surgery. In one case, where I had no decision making say, I am convinced they ended a life a year or two early, because the egos refused to recognize that people die, that surgery is a risky business for people over the age of 80, and that sometimes advanced cancer can't be fought, only the pain can be treated. But mostly it was the egos that refused to admit they weren't gods.

The interesting piece of the whole article turns religion. Although Ms. Winnick's father was born into an Orthodox Jewish family, he had become a confirmed atheist early in his life.
My father, who had long ago rejected Orthodox Judaism, was now under its protection.
Now that's what you call ironic.

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