For a few moments I was tempted to title this Staying Alive, but it honestly doesn’t fit this article’s topic. Too bad, Bee Gees.
Several of the easiest, least complicated articles to write have come when a reader has asked me to either further explain an already discussed topic or to discourse on a specific subject. The latter is the case for this article.
I was asked to discuss modern (Western) medicine, the bane and blessing of my life. Specifically, to concern myself with people being kept alive on machines.
Before I go any further, let me state something we all too rarely acknowledge. Modern medicine can help people achieve dignified conclusions to lives of increasing agony, not just keep them alive interminably. I know of a particular case where the doctor snowed someone with inoperable cancer who was in immense pain. “Snowed” is a slang term used in the medical profession for giving a dying patient increasing amounts of pain killers such as opiates to help them die rather than forcing them to live long, painful lives. The doctor helped his patient die much earlier than he might have had his doctor not given him gradually larger amounts of a pain killer. Initially the medicine killed the patient’s pain. Given in ever-increasing dosages, it killed the pain and, eventually, the patient. The patient had a dignified death surrounded by family and loved ones.
We hear of cases in the news where modern medicine has been used willy-nilly to murder men, women and children. What we don’t hear are the cases where compassionate doctors help their patients — even friends and family — achieve death sooner than had the patients been forced to suffer long, horrible deaths.
Personal experience long ago taught me that when people are in pain, or will die in any case, it is preferable for medical professionals to help people die instead of forcing them to stay alive.
It should be obvious to any reader that my personal experiences have swayed my opinion to the extent that the facts I have observed overrule what my heart feels. There are times when one must simply be practical.
There are those people, too, caught in an in-between state of existence. They are physically alive. Their minds are not seen by current neurological testing to be fully functioning, if at all. Modern medicine can, and does, keep them alive when it appears they should die. In certain cases, some people remain in this state because their work is not done. True, modern medicine forces far too many of us to remain alive than wish to be alive.
In spite of what we may assume, it is not necessarily true that modern medicine always forces comatose people to remain alive.
Some people make the theoretically unconscious decision to remain in apparent suspended animation because they are making choices about their lives while comatose. If there is unfinished work in their lives, do they choose to remain alive to finish it? Sometimes that can be done while in a physical coma. Sometimes it means leaving the coma to return to a physically awake state. It may depend on something so simple as to whether or not the work can be completed in a coma.
People who remain in comas for long periods of time are not only finishing their own life’s business, they are giving family, friends and healthcare workers the opportunities to conclude their lives’ work as well. It can be a long, slow painful process for many of those involved. It is rarely acknowledged that this is also their opportunity to achieve the spiritual feats demanded of them in this life. By helping someone who is not necessarily competent, the families, friends and healthcare workers are fulfilling the missions of their souls.
I don’t personally care for forcing long term comas on people. I have been kicked back to life from death so many times that my medical orders are to perform absolutely no outrageous acts of false courage to keep me alive.
Let me go.
Perhaps being exposed to the deaths of others at a very young age helped me make this decision. Perhaps seeing so many friends die of AIDS during the worst years of the epidemic helped me make this decision.
Machines make it harder for people who would otherwise die to die. They also keep alive people who have spiritual work to perform, for however long or short a time. A person may be kept alive for only a few moments. Then, in spite of the heroics and fancy machines, they outsmart everyone and go Home to God.
I have seen times where people appear to be stuck in this life. Don’t forget that we all make decisions about our spiritual lives every step of the way. The second they fully choose to leave, nothing any doctor on earth does can force them back to life.
We are stuck in this life if we choose to be stuck here. Like me. Even after dying over fifty years ago, and many times since, I’m here. Each time I died it felt like I was in for a spiritual oil change with complete lube and tune up. My soul got what it was supposed to get and I was booted out of Home and back to earth.
Modern Western medicine has a lot of fancy bells and whistles. We have fake joints, fake internal organs, blood from other people and medicines for all occasions.
Nothing, absolutely nothing in man’s arsenal, can out trick God and the human soul. When it’s our time to go Home, we will do like our families and friends before us.
Or, as I prefer to think of it, “Beam me up, God!”