Final Exit by voluntary dehydration

John Rehm, husband of NPR talk host Diane Rehm, after battling Parkinson's for years, asked his doctor to help him die when he could no longer use his legs and arms. His doctor refused. So he checked into a local hospice, noted he wanted no food or drink, and nine days later died of dehydration. I talked about this and the other final-exit option of going to Switzerland, the only jurisdiction that allows assisted-suicide by non-resident patients on my blog today. See bit.ly/1p2c3FG

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  • If a person is intent on suicide or Euthanasia it is their choice, I respect that choice. But I really do not think they should try to get laws passed to make it legal. Once you give Doctors a right to judge who lives and who dosen't, we are getting onto very dangerous ground. Nazi Germany had a similar idea, the results of which have led to much of the nasty politics of today.

    Life is sacred to all on this Earth, I would personally like to see it kept that way.

  • Owdsod, I'm confused. You opine, simultaneously, that " If a person is intent on suicide or Euthanasia it is their choice " and "Once you give Doctors a right to judge who lives ..." ?? The first is an example of individual choice and the second is to abrogate that individual choice and replace it with a doctor's choice. As you see it, who get to make the life/death decision? The doctor or the individual patient? In my view, the doctor is merely a hired hand. We employ doctors, not to make decisions for us, but to provide advice & counsel, and to assist us by carrying out our decisions.

  • I believe you already have legal Euthanasia in three States in the USA , but as yet in the UK it is not legal anywhere. Once Laws are passed they usually end up like snowballs. they get bigger. One only has to look how laws can come through the back door with no democratic process. i.e. The UK is now ruled by the EEC, whereas in the 1970s people only voted for free trade with Europe, not to be dictated to by unelected officials. It would be the same with Euthanasia, give a person Power through the law, or via the back door. Power over another, and they will eventually abuse that Power.

  • Actually what we're talking about isn't euthanasia, which occurs in the Dr. Kevorkian situation where someone else takes an active role in your death

  • I believe the current term as used by advocacy groups is" self determination."

  • I also believe that we should all have the choice to be able to die, as and when our quality of life in unbearable. I don't see what doctors have got to do with it. They cannot say what you feel, inside. They can only give an opinion on your state of health. Why not have a law which gives you that right, ONLY YOU?

    jOHN

  • Might not be of sound mind?

  • or of sound body - completely paralised.

  • man has inalienable right to live or die. no doctor or government, or religious leader can take it away. if some one is hell bent on ending his/her misery, i don't think anybody can stop him/her. now assistance from somebody else is something else. it should be voluntary not mandated. doctors may choose to participate in your decision to terminate your life, that is their right, but mandating it is curtailing one's freedom. I like the Swiss arrangement. well enlightened people.

  • Owdsod – You are correct that we do have legal euthanasia in three states in the USA (OR, WA, VY); and as I understand it, there are three counties in Europe (CH, BE, NL) where euthanasia is legal. I also understand that it is pretty much of a hodge-podge in the rest of the world, including England, where suicide is not a crime but assisting someone in their suicide is a crime, resulting in the bizarre situation where it is a crime to assist someone engaged in a legal activity! Your concern that if a person is given power over another they will eventually abuse that power is shared by many, including some famous dead Brits such as Lord Acton (“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,”) and John Stuart Mill (“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”) Wise men, indeed. And as “flunky” correctly indicated in his response to you, man has an inalienable right to live or die, no doctor, government, etc., can take it away. John Pepper expressed a similar belief in his post and didn’t see “what doctors have got to do with it.” The answer of course is that whereas they are not and should not be the decision makers in the matter, they can and should be permitted (allowed, but not obliged) to assist mentally competent adults who wish to end their life in peaceful, non-violent manner. An injection or a pill is certainly more dignified than leaping off a building, or in front of a train, or taking the muzzle of a firearm in the mouth. When Gleeson replies to you that what we are talking about isn’t euthanasia, he is practicing Humpty Dumptyism. (From Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Caroll's Through the Looking-Glass), “When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.” Me too. I think a better term for what I am talking about is “physician assisted suicide.” The operative word here is “assisted.” Any physician who “initiates” (i.e., without patient approval), instead of “assists” (with patient approval) is involved in homicide, not suicide.

  • Espo, I haven't kept up with what legislation has been introduced in other states, but as far as Oregon goes, it is not euthanasia, but as you note farther down in your note, "physician-assisted suicide." The patient must live in Oregon for a substantial time before making a request to a physician, the physician must counsel the patient numerous times, and the patient must make her/his explicit wishes known more than once over a long period before the physician provides the drugs. Euthanasia is what we do to pets that have painful, fatal diseases, and have no say in the matter. The important difference is the matter of who is doing the deciding.

  • Gleeson, thank you for posting the info on suicide by dehydration. I am 78 and I believe I am in Stage 3,

    which means I will need a wheelchair in the next stage. My husband is 84 and has had open-heart surgery

    as well as two surgeries to treat the infections in his incision after the open-heart surgery. I don't want

    him to have to take care of me, and our two children live a great distance out-of-state from us. If you

    find any other ways a person can end their life without assistance, please post them.

  • Gleeson, thank you for posting the info on suicide by dehydration. I am 78 and I believe I am in Stage 3,

    which means I will need a wheelchair in the next stage. My husband is 84 and has had open-heart surgery

    as well as two surgeries to treat the infections in his incision after the open-heart surgery. I don't want

    him to have to take care of me, and our two children live a great distance out-of-state from us. If you

    find any other ways a person can end their life without assistance, please post them.

  • I'll certainly keep everyone posted on any developments in this area. I may try checking with Diane Rehm on whether she thinks there's any chance of a assisted-suicide law in DC. It could probably pass our liberal DC council but the question is whether Congress would step in and find a way to squash it.

  • I'll certainly keep everyone posted on any developments in this area. I may try checking with Diane Rehm on whether she thinks there's any chance of a assisted-suicide law in DC. It could probably pass our liberal DC council but the question is whether Congress would step in and find a way to squash it.

  • I am looking into this myself I was just diagnosed but is the stages after medication or before not sure if the stages nad what they mean if it's before I say I'm a three since I also have been battling with arthritis and most of 2 yrs spent looking at pd symptoms as arthritis since it hides so well with the nerve damage done by degenerative disc disease and have nerve roots trapped sooo I am trying to still figure out where arthritis ends and pd begins....

  • And I, at age 85, am trying to find out where ageing ailments end and Parkinson's begin. But I 've decided it's a waste of time and energy to wrestle with these questions. My present condition no doubt is due to a mix of both and a lot of other things. My focus today needs to be on what's going on now and what can I do about it.

  • And I, at age 85, am trying to find out where ageing ailments end and Parkinson's begin. But I 've decided it's a waste of time and energy to wrestle with these questions. My present condition no doubt is due to a mix of both and a lot of other things. My focus today needs to be on what's going on now and what can I do about it.

  • And I, at age 85, am trying to find out where ageing ailments end and Parkinson's begin. But I 've decided it's a waste of time and energy to wrestle with these questions. My present condition no doubt is due to a mix of both and a lot of other things. My focus today needs to be on what's going on now and what can I do about it.

  • And I, at age 85, am trying to find out where ageing ailments end and Parkinson's begin. But I 've decided it's a waste of time and energy to wrestle with these questions. My present condition no doubt is due to a mix of both and a lot of other things. My focus today needs to be on what's going on now and what can I do about it.

  • how long ago were you diagnosed? I'm 73 and recently diagnosed and hoping to stay off meds. Do you have any experience or advice on that? My symptoms are mild and I think not noticeable and do not interfere with exercise and responsabilitie

  • I remember when my husband was in your situation at almost the same age. He is now 81 and at an advanced stage. He was not diagnosed until he was 77 so he lost four years wondering what was wrong or how to remediate. Looking back he might have staved off symptoms through significant exercise program for ALL muscles, including vocal. He tried meds at 77 but had dyskenesia side effects. He stopped using levadopa then because, like you, his symptoms were milder, When he needed the meds later, he had not built up any tolerance, so he can perhaps use them longer. I wish my husband had exercised more frequently than he chose to because of the degenerative nature of Parkinson's. You are fortunate in having a diagnosis early enough to help through exercise. Also, I just read an article about DBS for people over 75. Slowing the symptoms down was, and still is, our goal: consumer.healthday.com/cogn...

  • Thank you for your response. It's not clear to me whether you are saying I should err on the side of medication or continue my intense exercise regimen. My neuro-movement specialist at a reputable hospital has advised against medication and thinks I should return in six months; that I do not need medical attention just yet. Yes, he has positively diagnosed my illness and I do concur that I have PD. He didn't indicate anything about building up tolerance for meds, only that meds alleviate symptoms and do not slow down progress. I hope to live to be 80 but not in advanced state of illness.

    But again, appreciate your response.

  • When it comes to pills, I'm a firm believer in "less is more." Sounds like you've got a good doctor.

  • I'm in a state of perpetual motion. I run, swim and try to do something each day. It seems I tremor more if I don't exercise so exercise it is. Thanks for your response, gleeson

  • Sure beats pills!

  • When it comes to pills, I'm a firm believer in "less is more." Sounds like you've got a good doctor.

  • I just shared my husbands experience of waiting until he really needed the meds. Your situation may be different and your neuro is probably the one to follow. Godd luck with the exercise program!

  • I was diagnosed 5 years ago. I try to avoid giving advice. Parkinson's is such an idiosyncratic disease -- what works for me may well not work for you. But I do think seeing a good neurologist is beneficial.

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