Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on Proposition 106
October 27, 2016
I am a nurse in a busy, high acuity ICU and an advocate for Proposition 106. As care providers, it is our duty to offer the highest level of compassion to our patients and to help alleviate suffering to the best of our abilities. There are worse things than death, and this proposition provides an option for people faced with that reality.
Part of my role as a nurse is to be the care provider at the bedside liberating a dying patient with physician prescribed sedation, a part of "comfort care measures." Although I attempt to remove suffering at those moments before death, there is nothing I can do to alleviate the months of suffering some of those patients and their families have endured. After my patient passes, I often retreat to the bathroom, shed tears and wish for a better way. Proposition 106 will open the lines of communication about death. The rule as it is written encourages the patient and physician to discuss hospice and palliative care in addition to the option of prescribing fatal medication. Even those who do not want to use the prescription will benefit from the more open conversations this law encourages.
Recently, I spent time with a dear friend as she lost her battle with terminal cancer. Although hospice and palliative care were a beautiful part of her care, her suffering could not be alleviated solely by these measures. Her pain was too great.
In response to the letter (Oct. 22) written by Mark Stephens, MD:
Medical aid in dying is neither suicide nor euthanasia. After consulting with multiple physicians, these patients would be offered the option to die with dignity, on their own terms and with less suffering.
"Choose life" — this proposition is about life, compassion, and quality of life for those with a terminal diagnosis. It is about a very personal choice made by a terminally ill patient in consultation with two separate physicians, under a very specific set of circumstances. Every terminally ill patient would "choose life" if it was an option. When it is no longer an option, then the conversation about death with dignity should be available for those who want to have it.
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If Mark Stephens or any other physician does not care to participate, they are not required to. If a person philosophically disagrees with the proposition, they do not have to participate either. However, please do not take this personal choice away from others who may be suffering terribly. Those for whom having this option might offer peace and comfort at the end of their lives.
Visit coendoflifeoptions.org for the facts and details of the proposition.
Erica Nagy, RN
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