Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, December 06, 2010

What Is This World Coming To?

Two patient's families today at the skilled nursing asked me to discontinue feedings on their loved ones. One patient's son was willing to re-consider and allowed me to restart basic sustenance, food and water through the gastric feeding tube. The other family really has no right to make the decision since the patient still has the capacity to decide.
Did I ever think I would see the day when a step daughter is arguing with me in front of her step-father trying to convince him that the quality of his life is so poor that he should agree to be starved to death? In front of her father she discussed how much the nursing home was going to cost them per day once he was no longer covered by insurance! I told the gentleman that he would be dead in two weeks if I discontinued his feedings. His step-daughter told him I would basically anesthetize him so he wouldn't feel anything. I explained that I would not participate in terminal sedation since this is not the standard of care nor is it legal.

The Catholic Church teaches us that the withdrawal of food and water from a patient who is not imminently terminal is grave sin and violates the dignity of the person and deprives them of their life. The Church teaches that life is sacred because we are created in the image of God and we are not to end another's life, irregardless of the quality of that person's life.

God have mercy on this generation that has found it so easy to end the life of the pre-born and now wishes to end the life of the frail elderly when they have become inconvenient or expensive.



Blogger Shirley said...

The powers that be are trying to legalize euthanasia in Canada. Such a sad world when life has become meaningless, as long as it is someone else's life. I wonder how that step-daughter would like it if someone told her that it was costing too much to keep her alive, that she was a financial burden and therefore should die.

December 06, 2010 9:42 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

The Catholic Church teaches us that the withdrawal of food and water from a patient who is not imminently terminal is grave sin.."

I think that withdrawing food and water, which are normal means of staying alive (as opposed to being on a ventilator, e.g.), can't be withdrawn under any circumstance...isn't that so?

December 07, 2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

If the person cannot assimilate the nutrition such as bowel obstruction or is in severe heart failure which will only be exacerbated by the fluids/nutrition, and death is imminent meaning less than 2-3 weeks, then it is not obligatory to place a feeding tube or continue to use it.
But I will double check to make sure I am correct regarding the Church teaching on this.
Keep me in your prayers for these issues because it is only going to get worse.

December 07, 2010 10:43 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Here's an article from a Franciscan friar with an MD and PhD.
I met him at an ethics conference this past spring. He was very helpful in answering some questions regarding feeding tubes I had at the time.
See what you think:

December 07, 2010 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TJ, please pray for me. I am almost like the step daughter, I am VERY sad to say. . . I have a 91 year old mother in law. She has many, many ailments but is sort-of in sound mind. She has just been diagnosed with myleofibrosis, a blood marrow problem. She is going to receive a powerful controlled substance drug to combat it. It costs $8000 per dose. (she has insurance so the first dose will be $4140, $400 after that).
With all the medical advances, will anyone die ever? Will we continue doctor visit after doctor visit, and live to be 120? In the old days, people would die. Now we are keeping everyone alive.
I must go to confession, I know. I am sorry to say this, but this is how I feel. When I get to 85, I am going to consider not being treated for anything and just let nature take its course.
I try and imagine that I am serving Jesus when I take her to the doctor or spend time caring for her.
I know I sound terrible and selfish and horrible. May God have mercy on my soul.

December 08, 2010 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to my world. Wait until you meet family members who are a part of the Hemlock Society!


December 08, 2010 6:30 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Anon:
Please let your soul take rest. You are not selfish or terrible. There is a concept the Church teaches about called over-burdensome care, when the burden of care becomes more than what is appropriate for the natural progression of the terminal condition.
Because we have the technology doesn't mean we are always obligated to use it. We can keep people alive much longer than before. Sometimes though, we keep them beyond what is really morally appropriate. Sometimes the morally correct thing is to stop treatments and the Church indeed supports withdrawl of certain types of care, IF , the treatments are over-burdensome. The concept of proportionality of treatment can be discussed with a medical ethicist in your diocese or your pastor. He can help you decide along with your Mom if her treatments are becoming overburdensome.
The Church's stand on medical appropriateness of treatment also takes finances into consideration and sometimes if the treatment would bankrupt the family, the Church doesn't require one to pursue treatment, especially if the treatment is fairly novel and there is no guarantee of cure.
I will pray for you and your Mom and I think that you are not the same person who is the step daughter in my blog post. Sometimes, the ultimate form of love is allowing the person to go when it is time, and not letting the doctors try "one more treatment." Because we have the new technology, we are not always obliged to use it.

December 08, 2010 8:42 AM  
Blogger Joyful Catholic said...

Thanks, TJ for this. It is informative and very timely. Not that I have anyone close to me goign through this, but at times, the subject does come up, so I'll remember this post and print it if need be, for some future discussion. Christmas is coming and sometimes our family gets into many varied conversations. This was indeed excellent, and gave me comfort thinking of my own "end" when God wills it. God bless.

December 08, 2010 11:13 AM  
Blogger John Salmon said...

As a Catholic who is entering the field of nursing, I wonder sometimes if I might be put in the position of either losing a job or violating my beliefs. Obviously I wouldn't participate in an abortion, but there are more and more other situations arising that are troublesome.

December 08, 2010 12:43 PM  
Blogger codum said...

Tiber Jumper, Thanks for you reassurance to Anonymous. Too many Catholics think that they're obliged to pursue every treatment under every circumstance. They need to hear that the Church teaches that under some circumstances, any treatment can be considered excessively burdensome.

December 08, 2010 3:12 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Ouch Tim!
That's gotta be hard.
Does this happen a lot to you at your job?

December 08, 2010 8:29 PM  
Blogger JLTan said...

This is a hard one. I would have difficulty with the emotion, regardless which way is chosen.

December 08, 2010 11:13 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

"Clearly, in many such cases, the burdens of treatment can be judged disproportionate with respect to the benefits, and the treatment could therefore be judged extraordinary or morally optional."

Interesting. Thanks for link to the article.

December 09, 2010 6:50 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

"Will we continue doctor visit after doctor visit, and live to be 120? In the old days, people would die. Now we are keeping everyone alive."

The West's wisdom tends to lag behind its knowledge.

December 09, 2010 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, but it did happen recently. A son of a resident asked if his father (who was of sound mind) could be given something to hasten death. He demanded we oblige because he was with the Hemlock Society! We said..NO! he wasn't happy and called us D*** Christians!


December 10, 2010 9:36 AM  

Post a Comment