Sunday, October 22, 2017

It was exciting to hear recently that the Lower House of the Parliament of Victoria, has passed their Voluntary Assisted Dying by 47 votes to 37. Their bill must be approved by the Upper House so it has some distance to go. But this is a great step forward,  originating from the work of a Committee that was set up about the same as NZ's, a couple of years ago.
It's going to be a slower process in this country but at least the David Seymour Bill is on the Table and must be considered, probably next year. The big question for us will be, will it be referred to the Health Committee that spent so long hearing submissions that were unsuccessful in challenging their obvious prejudices, or can it go to a different Committee this time?
Apparently that's is a possibility. But either way, it looks like another substantial round of submissions lies ahead ... Well, I'm ready!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bits and Pieces

Since Vodafone disinherited my long-standing email address this blogger has been struggling to get on line again...

Meanwhile, we had a great two weeks away with family in Upper Hutt and Blenheim and enjoyed World of Wearable Art in Wellington. Since we got home the TV has blown up and we have let the Forester go and are settling down to life with the five year old Nissan Leaf which is a great pleasure to drive as well as a useful contribution to the environment - and, let's face it, extravagantly cheap to run.

I've had another monthly test result and my PSA is steady at 57 or so and I am having no major side effects with Abiraterone so it seems to be doing what it is supposed to. Off to Med Onc again in a few days... Nothing is forever, but for now, our quality of life is pretty good and I am applying myself to some useful projects - helping one of our residents to get access to an online audience about her remarkable experience with treating Parkinson's Disease... tidying up an inventory of stuff owned (or thought to be owned!) by our Residents' Committee... planning more writing on End of Life Choice - now that a new Parliament is (almost!) in place and David Seymour's Bill will have its first reading next year...

I see my post of 12 September was a bit critical of Simon "Turkey" O'Connor and the report of his earnest but fatally flawed Parliamentary Health Committee. To not make a distinction between suicide and voluntary euthanasia is unbelievable. What a waste of time and effort. I was very gentle compared with what some others are saying about O'Connor - one person even suggested this lack of intellectual integrity presages the end of his parliamentary career. However, it does not necessarily follow that his Committee will be designated to consider the Bill if it passes the first reading. One would hope for a better, fairer hearing next time - even we all have to do make our submissions again.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Turkey" O'Connor strikes again!

Image result for clip art turkey at dinner

So "Turkey" O'Connor has struck again...
It was appalling that he did not stand aside as Chair of the Parliamentary Health Committee on End of Life Choice a couple of years ago - he forfeited his moral right to head up the investigation when he made a public statement of his personal point of view. It was worse when he urged Catholics to send in "submissions" favouring his point of view. It was pretty bad when his Committee produced a mealy-mouthed report that did not really move the issue in either direction. And his public statement after the Committee finished its work was a masterpiece of subterfuge and misstatement.
Now he has revealed that after listening to some 1800 personally presented submissions he still doesn't understand the distinction between end of life choice for terminally ill aged people and the desperate plight of physically well people who feel that suicide is their only choice.
When I first criticised O'Connor for maintaining that it was OK to publicly promote a point of view at the same time as presiding over an investigation into the issue one of my readers observed that it was like asking a turkey to preside over a committee discussing the future of Thanksgiving.

Well, to mix a metaphor, the turkey hasn't changed its spots

Friday, September 8, 2017

Electric Gridlock

One of the amazing characteristics of Electric Vehicles has already made itself known in our household. It's not the limitations of range - it's the astonishingly cheap cost of running.
We've clocked up 1000 kilometres in a month - mainly because an overnight charge which adds three or so dollars to our power bill will give us an all-day outing all over the gorgeous hinterland beyond our suburb. And we've done that almost every fine day.
We took a couple of friends on a bit of a short trip around the local suburbs and realised that 12 kms added up to just over ten cents each. We've shown the car off quite a lot and there's enormous interest.
Indeed, one of our neighbours who had a quick introduction to electric motoring in our Leaf has just come home today with his very own BMW, a beautiful, large but very compact vehicle.
Only now have I realised that if a large proportion of the motoring public discovers how much cheaper an EV is to run than an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine to you!) Auckland's gridlock can only get appallingly worse. Why would you bother with a bus when the cost of driving your EV may be actually less than the busfare?
Perhaps we had better promote EVs a little more cautiously.
But it's a lovely way to go....

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The MCRPC report

   Drove the Electric Blue over to Medical Oncology at Greenlane today. Quite a big trip for all three of us, but a short fast charge and a hamburger at McDonalds set us all up for a lengthy, leisurely return home via Sylvia Park shopping centre and then along the best waterfront drive in the world on a really gorgeous day.
   Once again, we are amazed at the professionalism of the consultants we meet. Their blend of technical competence and personal empathy impresses us every time. This one had done her homework thoroughly: she was even aware of my struggles with my conscience over the decision to go onto Abiraterone and she had a printed copy of notes I optimistically emailed to the staff secretary only last night.
   We had a really helpful conversation as she went over my few concerns and we discussed changes in a couple of meds. We are going try a different steroid instead of Prednisol and she has agreed to my suggestion that we reduce the amount of anti-depressant we use to control the incessant hot flushes that were so much a part of my life up until a couple of years ago. There's no way I would want to return to that lifestyle but Venlafaxine  seems to be bringing some other unwanted side effects.
   For the first time in fifteen years my weight is down a little, with no apparent explanation. Most of the meds would be more likely to add weight than take it off. But my PSA is pretty stable at 56, though that is also just about as high as it has ever been.
   However, if we made the decision on Abiraterone for the sake of quality of life there's no absolutely doubt that that objective has been achieved. It's being a terrific year.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Managed death

Image result for wilding pines nz
This afternoon I heard Hon Maggie Barry, Minister for Conservation, describing the problem of dealing with wildling radiata pine trees damaging the conservation estate. She called it “managing” the problem and then added, “Well, killing them”

I recall that when my Dad was in the final stages of life, his doctor told me in an aside, “This is what we call a managed death”. I knew what he meant. So, I think, would the Hon Maggie. I should have stayed to ask for her personal views on end of life choice.

Dad should have had choice months before his “managed death”.  I hope we change the law so that I will have choice if it comes to a slow death with total paralysis....

A Lost Opportunity

Image result for voice for life nz
There's going to be no trip to Whangarei.
I was looking forward to an opportunity to dialogue with "Voice for Life" supporters next month.
They set up an event with two speakers from each side of the voluntary euthanasia  issue and a forum and open discussion. I was nominated to be one of the speakers on the side of - guess what! - End of Life Choice.
But it seems their main speaker on the Voice for Life side cannot attend at that time, so they have cancelled the event. A palliative care specialist, he was to come from Queensland. Could they not find someone to step in at a month's notice? And could they not find someone in this country to support their case anyway?
I am disappointed because I had looked forward to the dialogue. It's not as though their position is without credibility. There are large numbers of people in churches and in the medical profession who have real problems of conscience on the issue of what they regrettably call "Euthanasia". I don't want to disparage or ridicule their point of view. But I would have relished the opportunity to clarify and understand more of the issues, on both sides, for "undecideds".
And I suppose I might have sneakily enjoyed challenging the expert about how he might "palliate" the major paralysis that is likely to be the way my life will end.

But my genuine disappointment is that I won't be able to explain that I just want the rest of us to be able to make the "Choice" that they already have the freedom not to have to make.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

No Change, says the Committee

Image result for parliament

The Parliamentary Committee on Health has tabled its report in the House. It has not recommended a law change to allow a few people have some choice at the end of their lives.

That's no surprise. Members of the Committee warned those of us who were making submissions that they didn't expect to produce any dramatic proposal. Their best hope at that time was that if David Seymour's bill should come up in the ballot box, Parliament would value the huge body of data the Committee uncovered as it listened to a thousand personal submitters.

Apart from the obvious basis of the Chair, the Committee must be congratulated on their openness to listen to everyone who wished to speak to them. They put themselves under considerable pressure to enable widespread opinion to be canvassed.  Now that that the Seymour bill is on the table their work should provide all the material Parliament could possibly need as it decides how to handle the matter.

But, it seems, that will now wait until the election puts together a new Parliament. Well, the few dozen who may benefit from a change in the law are used to waiting...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

That TV1 News Item Last Week!

If blog readers happened  to miss last night's TV news item, here's the link, kindly provided by Political Reporter Katy Bradford, whose team made such a splendid job of the piece.

The broadcast ended a very busy week for Bev and me. We had at least two things on each day and there was some difficulty organising a date to do the camera work. Then it had to be cancelled because they couldn't get a camera. The wild storm over the whole of the country dominated the news for three or so days and the piece couldn't be aired until Friday.

And that day we were using our retirees Gold Card to bus and train right over to Penrose to pick up our cute five-years old all-electric Leaf. We walked back into the house, turned on the midday news and there was my face all over the intro piece. Happily, they found something better for the 6pm news.

But it was a privilege to have the opportunity to respond on behalf of End-of-Life Choice NZ. I wanted to support the view that we've heard all the arguments on both sides. It's now time for the Politicians to make up their minds and vote. David Seymour's bill popping up out of the ballot box a few weeks ago has made it an election issue  It's time has come.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My response to Amitav Ghosh's THE GREAT DERANGEMENT

This piece turned out to be not so much a book review as a sermon. But perhaps that's the kind of response Ghosh would like...

The Great Derangement
Climate Change and the Unthinkable                                             
Amitav Ghosh     University of Chicago Press 2016
Ghosh is an Indian writer of considerable academic distinction. His main output has been historical novels of great length, precise detail, daunting length and fascinating descriptions.
This book, The Great Derangement, is not a novel but enjoys the same attention to detail. It deals with climate change but clearly from an Asian perspective. He writes in three sections:
Great climatic events have occurred before. The biblical story of the Flood should say something to us! In 1978 Ghosh was right at the epicentre of the only known tornado ever to hit Delhi. Not much is known of the Mumbai cyclone of 1882 where one eighth to one quarter of the population of 800,00 died — primarily because the British encouraged the population to move onto the buffer islands of the delta. In 2005 and 2015 vast deluges have completely overwhelmed the drains of Mumbai.
But get this: in about 1300AD there were stone tablets placed along the upper shore of a coastal valley in Japan. They proclaimed: nobody should build a house below this level. Not only did the people build a city on the waterfront but they established a nuclear power plant there as well. We all know what happened at Fukushima in 2011.
The colonisers of the last three centuries imposed their transport needs on people who often knew better than to live near the shore. All the world’s major cities of the last three centuries have been built close to the sea routes. Colonialism and the coal economy have enforced development of this vulnerability. We continue be de-ranged from known and obvious historical reality.
The great majority of potential victims of climate change are Asian. Rising sea levels could cause relocation of 50m in India and 75m in Bangladesh. 24% of India’s arable land is already turning into desert. Ghandi, 1928:
God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. If an entire nation of 300m engaged in similar economic exploitation (they) would strip the world bare like locusts.
But Asia presses ahead with all manner of Western-style medicine, higher education, nuclear armament and space exploration. The standard of living expectations of so many fortunate Chinese are an obvious case in point as we see the massive residences going up in our own suburbs.
In the period of dramatically rising emissions since WW1, the literary and creative elite have let their output be “deranged” from climate change realities. Only a handful of novel writers, dramatists and artists are dealing with real possibility of climate change and they are usually Sci Fi rather than mainstream. What we might call the prophetic role is gone from the creative culture of most nations.
But do we notice? We know: Where were you when Kennedy was killed? Or: Where were you during 9/11? But do you remember the month when CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400ppm? The last time that was so high there was no human life on the planet. We live on the edge—we separate ourselves from the unthinkable.
Widespread denialism on the one hand and vigorous activism on the other clash to produce another derangement which seems to ensure there is no political change.
Strangely, the American Military has somehow sidestepped this political derangement and is investing billions in alternative energy strategies.
As an Asian writer, Ghosh is particularly cynical about the “armed lifeboat metaphor”–that some of us will be lucky and will survive—if we don’t let others get their hands on our resources.
In a fascinating criticism of the Paris Accord, Ghosh compares it with an encyclical from Pope Francis produced a few months earlier the same year. “We fail to see the deepest roots of our own failure”... There’s no language like that in what he calls the Paris Accord’s “waterfall of gerunds”—recalling, welcoming, recognising.
At the very end of the book Ghosh appeals for the great religions of the world to take up the issue. Countries will not do it—either by themselves or internationally. They are structured — deranged, you might say—to look after their own people. Only religions span the world. Religion may be the world’s only hope.
Do we need old-style evangelists?

What am I going to do? 

Almost all NZ's electricity is produced from renewable resources, so in two days we are taking delivery of an electric car....