There Is No Place Like Home

Can’t you just see Dorothy clicking her heels? There is no place like home. There is no place like home…

I’m sorry, that’s as funny as this post is going to get.

There is no place like home. Most people would agree with that. Some would even tell you there are places far worse than home. Those are the places we avoid, the places we fear. The places we sometimes absolutely refuse to abide… But sometimes we’re forced into such places.

As most know I recently returned from holiday and as everyone knows (or anyone that’s ever left home for more than 12 hours) things stack up.

I was sorting through an endless list of digital solicitations when I came across an article. This article was not a solicitation; it’s a magazine I actually subscribe to. The article was written back in November and titled Patients Have the Right to Choose Death From Bedsores by Art Caplan from the division of medical ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

(If you don’t subscribe to Medscape you can see most of it here or here)

I won’t bore you with the legalities or the medical jargon but the point made was this: a person’s right to die has far-reaching effects. That in itself is not anything new but the method in which the man chose to die was essentially unheard of.  The article did not delve into the gory details of dying by decubitus but more of how one person’s decision might affect those around them. Their right to die and how that right might disrupt the well-being of people indirectly related to them.

To die from bedsores – to choose to die from bedsores strikes me as a horrendous way of exiting this life yet I must respect that person’s right as much as I would anyone’s refusal of life-prolonging measures.

Much controversy and upheaval came about due to this man’s decision. He simply refused to be turned. The poor gentleman was cautioned regarding the onset and side effects of decubitus ulcers – essentially that pressure sores would develop, his flesh would rot, infection would set in and death would be slow, malodorous and uncomfortable to say the least. Being of sound mind he declared this his fate. You see the gentleman could no longer live in his own home after suffering a series of debilitating strokes and thus decided not to live at all.

The sad thing about his choice was not only how it affected him but everyone else in the hospital. For five weeks (that’s how long it took) it is said that the odor grew stronger as he grew weaker. The room in which he stayed was treated as isolation not due to contagions but to contain the stench as much as possible.

He had one daughter.

It is not my intention to judge or point fingers, this man was of sound mind, an opinion substantiated by professional reports. I don’t intend to weigh in on the family dynamics other than to express my sympathies. I’m not up for debating Kevorkian issues, to each his own and let your conscience be your guide. So what is this post about? I’m not really sure except to possibly bring light to the reality that our decisions reach far beyond the tips of our fingers and our own demise… and the fact that there is no place like home.

10 thoughts on “There Is No Place Like Home

  1. I can’t believe someone in their right mind wanting to die a slow and lingering death. I also find it hard to imagine being sick or injured in the hospital and having to smell the awful odor this must of produced. I hope if I ever make that kind of odd choice those around me would have enough sense to have me declared not in my right mind and medical attention would be given. I think this is totally different than a DNR. Of course, this is my own opinion. I would hate to think I smelled so bad others were gagging around me. 😳

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  2. I’m a nurse. I’ve seen many people out of this world and fully support their decisions to do so in whatever manner they choose. But, this??!! Crazy! Bedsores are horribly painful. I hunted for the article and agree. Patients have a right to choose, but caregivers also have the right to refuse to participate. I think he needed better mental health care. He needed better options. That he thought this was his only out is inhumane. Ugh. What a mess. Thanks for reminding me how glad I am to be retired. This emotional stuff is what does me in more than any work load or pile of paperwork. Watching a person die a slow painful death is heart wrenching, and myself, I would have refused this case. I have to hand it to hospice people and strength they have to do their jobs.

    Well you sure did get me to run on, didn’t you! LOL OK, I am going to settle down and go eat my Panamanian breakfast, and think about what trees I want to photograph today 🙂

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    • I hear you comrade and ditto. I’m glad you mentioned you hunted for the article and my apologies, I should have linked at least one source. I’ve fixed that. Enjoy your breakfast in beautiful Panama.

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      • No worries, a right click, a google, and it popped up first thing. NYU? That’s where I went to school. Thanks, and I hope you have a great weekend 🙂

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