Choose Dignity

After exhausting all avenues of treatment, my uncle and his family are now faced with the decision to either leave my aunt in hospital in the hope that something about her condition may change, or take her home and make her as comfortable as possible since any treatment she’s currently receiving can easily be administered at home. Inevitably, the first concern that was raised was how would they (the family) feel should something go horribly wrong if they took her home.

I think that’s the wrong way to look at this. Similar to death, and I don’t mean to sound insensitive or morbid here, but the real issue is that this is not about the family, it is about the patient. This is not about appeasing the conscience of the family or creating sufficient disclaimers regarding their culpability in the face of a bad outcome, but instead it’s about giving an ailing person the dignity of choice to decide what circumstance she would prefer, especially since she is still lucid and competent enough to make such a decision.

Consider the alternative. Should things take a turn for the worst, would anyone consider the fact that her last wish to spend time in her own home and depart peacefully was actually ignored because of the selfish (albeit sincere) considerations of those around her? Again, like death, this is about the person that is affected, and not about the effect it has on those around them. It may seem like a cold and cruel position to take, but in our grieving and concern, we often make things about ourselves when in fact it is not.

We’re still hopeful for a positive outcome, but I wish people would start looking at this from her perspective rather than how it affects everyone else around her.

By all accounts, I am indeed a madman. I have desires and yearnings that appear to be normal but reflect a weakness of spirit that is pitiful. I have been painfully tutored about the nature of people, yet my belief in their inherent goodness and potential wholesomeness remains strong.

A wise physicist once said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviour and expecting a different result. So by definition, I am a madman. I see and experience the hypocrisy of the closet sincerests among us, yet I continue to believe that there is an inherent goodness that lurks beneath. Not only do I believe it, I plan on it, I count on it and I expect it.

There are exceptions of course. But here’s the coup de grace of it all. In believing in this flawed human spirit, and in living a naively misguided life, my reputation has been tainted because of good intentions associated with bad outcomes. And these exceptions that I admire and appreciate so much would rarely feel inclined to be acquainted with the likes of such a tainted soul. From afar I’ll continue to desire and yearn, but I dare not step close enough to tarnish them with the putrefaction of a decaying soul.