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Life in the Grey Zone

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'yorz
1247824.  Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:46 am Reply with quote

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/sep/05/how-science-found-a-way-to-help-coma-patients-communicate

An impressive article. It is amazing how far science has come, being able to communicate with people who are perceived to be in an irriversible vegetative state.
What I would like to know - has anyone contemplated asking this man whether he wanted to remain in this state or whether he had enough?
He can't ask himself to be freed from this situation that has gone on for many years, but he could and would have reacted to a question that gave him the choice.

 
L on earth
1247845.  Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:53 am Reply with quote

I'm not sure you ethically could, even if you wanted to. Whilst euthanasia is legal in Canada, you need to prove informed consent, and I suspect that the relatively new technique of using fMRI to show agreement probably wouldn't hold up in court. Asking him the question knowing you couldn't fulfill his wishes wouldn't really be fair on him or his family.

It's a really interesting article, but what slightly terrified me is the claim that 15-20% of people in a persistent vegetative state may be fully conscious. At least they actually know that now, and have started trying to communicate with them, but it's something that's going to fuel my nightmares for a while.

 
'yorz
1247847.  Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:13 am Reply with quote

Well yes, you can't ask that question of you can't act on a 'yes'.
But that article reinforces my resolve to carry a DNR or similar paper on my person (or have it tattooed on my collar bone, so it's less easy to miss in those vital first minutes when people would start reanimating like mad). The thought of lying in such a state for deity knows how long fill me with utter dread.

 
L on earth
1247849.  Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:30 am Reply with quote

I know you're (probably) joking, but DNR tattoos are actually getting more common, and are quite an interesting medico-legal issue. They aren't legally binding, and there have been cases where people with them have had to be resuscitated because no legal documentation has been found. There was one case where a chap had a DNR tattoo done after losing a bet, but actually wanted to be resuscitated (article).

 
'yorz
1247852.  Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:16 am Reply with quote

I was half-joking. A DNR-tattoo may well alert attending medical services to the existence of a legal form (but admittedly, by the time that has been dug op, the reanimation process will already have been started if not completed). A problem indeed.

The twerp in your example... you can't force him to have it removed, but people like him cause problems for those who are serious in their demands.

But all this is a diversion from the original case - why would you keep someone alive for many years if the quality of life is almost zero?
I remember having had my doglet put down the moment he could no longer function as a dog: constant medication, repetitive painful treatment, just lying in his bed, hardly able to walk outside to do his business... Sounds familiar?
The above man was apparently not in pain. But was he happy? Did he like not being able to respond to the endless hours of talking by friends/relatives? Just lying there with your thoughts swirling inside your head, being bathed and cleaned, turned to avoid bedsores - year after year...
There is no money or opportunity for all such patients to be shoved into a clever tunnel that will or will not detect brain activity. The majority will just lie in bed and wait until some friendly hospital germ will set them free.
Awful. Just awful.

 
Jenny
1247909.  Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:41 pm Reply with quote

That was a breathtaking article - thanks for sharing.

 
RLDavies
1248420.  Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:45 am Reply with quote

L on earth wrote:
It's a really interesting article, but what slightly terrified me is the claim that 15-20% of people in a persistent vegetative state may be fully conscious. At least they actually know that now, and have started trying to communicate with them, but it's something that's going to fuel my nightmares for a while.

Back in the '60s, when Colin was just beginning to come out of his coma (after being blown up in Vietnam), he spent several days conscious and aware, able to feel, but blind, deaf, and completely paralysed. He's said that was the most terrifying and despair-filled period of his life. Eventually, when one of the doctors opened his eyes to check for reflexes, he was able to muster up a voluntary eye movement and so indicate that somebody was home.

 
'yorz
1248485.  Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:35 am Reply with quote

The stuff of nightmares. :-/

 

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