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

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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

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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

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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 bias 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...