Pulling the Plug



Welcome to Wrinkled Wisdom.  Our topic is death and dying.  We call it “pulling the plug.”  But, before you begin reading, we have a caveat.  We reference social security and Medicare.  Just pretend they aren’t changing in the near future.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  We all love control.  So, some questions.  Want to be in control up to your very last moment?  Want to leave more to your family or favorite charity?  Want to ensure Social Security and Medicare are around for your kids’ and grandkids’ old age?

The answers to all three are obvious.  Death by choice.  Yes!  And, what better way than to pull the plug when we choose!  We know, shocking.  But…is it?????

Heck, we treat our beloved pets with more dignity than our aged.  When we recognize it’s time, we call the vet.

Who needs those misnamed “death panels?”  If we’ve checked off the bucket list and are facing long, expensive periods of decline fighting cancer, heart disease, or creeping dementia, or suffering debilitating arthritis or chronic pain that ends all the fun, what the hell…let’s do it.

A high-five for the states today that allow terminally ill adult residents to get prescription medication to hasten their deaths.  It’s at least a start. (Dr. Kevorkian was a bit ahead of the times.)

But, people won’t want to move to Washington State…too cloudy and rainy. Colorado is gorgeous, but the rental market is crazy.  California is a mess with its droughts, mudslides, and earthquakes.  Vermont may be fabulous in the fall as the leaves turn; but, have you been there in the winter?  It’s cold!  Oregon has some appeal.  But, who wants to move at all?  It’s inconvenient and costly.

We want the right to pull the plug in our own home when we are ready, not just six months before we are expected to die from a terminal illness—especially when much of that time is spent maneuvering through the legal/medical approval maze.  (A quick aside: most doctors opt to die at home.  Could this be a message?)

What’s the big deal about living longer?  It only means more facelifts and doctor’s orders to give up our favorite foods.  Studies confirm that there is an increase in the absolute number of years lost to disability as life expectancy rises.  We are opposed to being the living dead!   Zombies belong in the movies. And, speaking of…have you seen those feeding tube videos?  Yuck.

Geez, we’ve dominated the political, cultural, and economic landscape for decades.  How about a last hurrah???  Let’s make a difference one final time.

We think euthanasia for oldies should appeal to younger generations who are positive we are going to live forever, max out Social Security and Medicare, and make it impossible for them to receive any of these benefits in their old age.

They have a point!  A 2012 stat underscores that one out of every four Medicare dollars, more than $125 billion, is spent annually on medical services for the five percent who are dying and are talked into procedures that may extend their lives by no more than a few weeks.

Work with us, kids…get behind death by choice!!!

(Oh, and euthanasia is not to be confused with “youth in Asia” or the 80s punk band by the same name.  Check Google for giggles.)

This isn’t even a new topic!  The Romans and Greeks debated the ethics of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide centuries ago.  In 1870, a humble schoolmaster wrote a treatise proposing the use of anesthetics and morphine to intentionally end a patient’s life.  That debate continued over the next 35 years until Ohio introduced a bill to legalize euthanasia in 1906.  It was defeated.  Bummer.

Yes, let’s face it.  There’s no reason to spend years in pain or in a nursing home with lots of lolling heads.  And, who wants to emulate a Jack Reacher thriller and search the “Deep Web” to find Mother’s Rest—a town providing euthanasia services to anyone who could afford to pay.  Unfortunately, it didn’t go well in Mother’s Rest.  Gotta be an easier way.

The positive news is that innumerable articles about death and dying are cropping up in magazines and newspapers—meaning it’s on the minds of many.  And, on a personal note, when we take a close look at the ugly fashions being touted in some of these publications…why live???

We researched some options out there and they are not as foolproof as we would like.  Helium keeps popping up.  But, lugging around a helium tank with arthritis and back pain seems a bit awkward—although it worked better in Grace and Frankie.  Apparently, heroin is risky and unreliable.  Guns are too messy and inconvenient for the relatives.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom advice for today?   Gently open conversations with family and friends about your interest in pulling the plug when you are ready.  Fantasize an afterlife full of fun.  Gee, can’t wait to see the ex-husbands.  At the least, have your ducks in row, including an Advance Health Care Directive that spells out that you aren’t interested in measures that prolong your life.  Make it clear in your will that anyone who disregards your intent doesn’t get a cent.  And, most importantly, lobby to give Amazon the option of having one its drones drop a package of killer drugs on our front steps!

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