After reading Mike Groenewold’s letter (The NEWS, Jan. 12) memories came flooding back and I was upset for the remainder of the day.
A very close relative of mine, who shall remain nameless, lost his wife of 53 years and decided he no longer wanted to live. He stopped eating, was hospitalized and tube fed. I’m trying to type this letter through my tears. He then decided he no longer wanted to be tube fed and kept pulling the tubes out. He just wanted to die.
Two doctors, his brother and I sat with him one day and asked him if he knew what he was saying, did he understand what he wanted. His reply was yes, he understood. The tubes were removed and a sign was hung over his bed with the letters DNR (do not resuscitate).
He had no other life-threatening medical conditions. We basically watched him wither away. It was a fairly slow and agonizing process. He died.
I didn’t understand at the time and I still don’t understand how what was allowed to happen to him was legal. So, no I don’t agree with the statement that the right to refuse medical treatment is entirely different from the “right to die.” In this case, the right to refuse medical treatment resulted in his death. The only difference I can see between this and assisted suicide is that one is legal and the other isn’t as of yet.
Also refusing medical treatment, at least in this case, did lead to death, it just took longer.