Anemona Hartocollis has a long piece in today’s NYT about the fine line physicans and families walk with patients at the end. New to me: in addition to pain, agitation and anxiety are now accepted reasons for giving patients a variety of CNS depressants, even though – or is it really because? – they are likely to hasten death.
Of course, it’s impossible to read a story such as this without imagining how it’s going to turn into more “death panel” hysteria. My own view is that if someone wants to hold on to every last minute, the health-care system ought to cooperate. But speaking for myself, I’d rather not die with a tube down my nose. As a society, our fear of death – for ourselves and others – costs us enormously in money and pointless suffering. Give me a long life, and a quick death.