Proper Palliative Sedation Not Same as Morphed Definition of “Terminal Sedating” into Coma to End Lives (2010)

[ed. Terminal Sedation is meant to be used to provide relief for agitation when nothing else works. This definition has morphed into sedating into a coma with the intent to end lives.] by Wesley J. Smith (below), with response by Ron Panzer Comment from Ron Panzer: Ron Panzer, President of Hospice Patients Alliance was asked to respond to Smith’s article by advocate and journalist, Matt Abbott. http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott Wesley Smith is on the right track, but clearly not a nurse who has worked in hospice and dealt with patients at the end-of-life. He confuses the terms “terminal sedation,” “palliative sedation” and what is supposed to occur and what is being done in the name of either. And “terminal sedation” or “palliative sedation” was NEVER mainly used as a pain control method. It was mostly used in the case of agitated patients, and to a lesser extent, for patients whose pain could not be managed well otherwise. What was always known before as “terminal sedation,” was properly applied for certain clinical conditions: the sedating of a patient whose extreme agitation (called “terminal agitation at the end-of-life”), delusional or psychotic state, or extreme pain could not be managed any other way, making him a danger to himself or others, or allowing his continued suffering. This “terminal sedation” properly protects the patient from himself and helps to achieve relief from those distressing symptoms. There is nothing in the original use of “terminal sedation” that required the patient to be denied artificial fluid and nutrition through a feeding tube, IV or other route. The new use of “terminal sedation intentionally to end lives” is...

On Being a ‘Burden’ to One’s Family, Especially One’s Spouse and Children

Guest commentary by William E. May, Ph.D. Frequently, elderly people like me (I will soon be 82 years old), some suffering from an assortment of health problems, are heard to say that they don’t want to be a burden on their families, especially their spouses and children. And there is surely some truth in this. But rightly understood—and I hope to make it so here—I want to be a burden to my loved ones. Gilbert Meilaender’s thoughtful reflections and their relevance to care of dying
 I began thinking seriously about this a short time ago when I received a copy of the 20th anniversary issue of the journal First Things (March 2010), in which selections from its first 20 years were reprinted. Among these was Gilbert Meilaender’s brief piece in the October 1991 issue called “I Want to Burden My Loved Ones.” In his thoughtful and thought-provoking article, Meilaender points out that in this life we do not come together as autonomous individuals freely contracting with each other. Rather we find ourselves living with other persons, beginning with our families, and are asked to share the burdens of life while caring for each other. He emphasizes that “morality consists in large part in learning to deal with the unexpected and unplanned interruptions in our life.” In short, we can ask ourselves, “How do I bear the contradictions of each day?” –traffic jams when we are in a hurry to get to work; slipping on the ice and breaking some bones; losing our job because of downsizing. Do we accept these or rebel against them and against God, who loves...