Death Channels

I haven’t blogged in over a month, and my new essay at PajamasMedia explains why:



Death Channels

Advance Health Care Directive

If the extension of my life would result in an existence devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning, then I do not desire any form of life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration, unless necessary for my comfort or alleviation of pain.

My agent shall consent to and arrange for the administration of any type of pain relief, even though its use may lead to permanent damage, addiction or even hasten the moment of, but not intentionally cause, my death…

That’s the document my Uncle Larry signed fifteen years ago when he first got his HIV diagnosis. He had always seemed like a devil-may-care sort of guy who planned to live fast and die young. Linger for months, attached to tubes and machines? No way! “Just shoot me now” was his signature expression, often used to express sarcastic disapproval of anything unfashionable, but taken literally in the case of his “Advance Health Care Directive.”

I actually knew very little about my uncle (whom I’ll dub “Larry” here to maintain his privacy) until he collapsed in public a little over a month ago. …



Read the rest here….

9 Responses to “Death Channels”

  1. 1Rose on Feb 22, 2011 at 11:26 am:


  2. 2John on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm:

    What goes on at hospices is evil, prescribing morphine and denying food to quicken death is evil. Thank you for sharing this, more people need to know this goes on so they can make informed decisions about how they want to deal with health issues.

  3. 3Linda on Feb 22, 2011 at 5:41 pm:

    Thank you for sharing this story so frankly. You are a gifted writer. It’s hard to hear that folks who have no close family ties can be, well, euthanized so coldly. That nurse who cleaned food out of patients’ mouths sounds like a villian in a movie.

    But it’s not a movie. It’s your uncle’s life. And others.

    My sympathies for the hardship that your uncle, and you, endured.

  4. 4Polliwog on Feb 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm:

    I wanted to add my thanks to you for being so open about your, and your uncle’s, experience. I think you did a very good job of explaining the many concerns involved with situations of this kind. I know, when my husband was dying, that I was shocked and unprepared for an air of ruthlessness that seemed to pervade even the Catholic hospital he was at. I hope that your post can be of help to others as they find themselves faced with choices that too often have to be made quickly but without good information or support.

  5. 5traci on Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 am:

    Why not use Fentanyl patches for pain, less sleepy but better pain relief? Probably too expensive!!

  6. 6CattusMagnus on Feb 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm:

    I’m sorry to hear of the passing of your Uncle. May peace be with you and your family.

  7. 7Markus Wold on Feb 24, 2011 at 12:48 am:

    Why am I not surprised members of your family have mental health issues?

  8. 8John from SA on Feb 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm:

    Wonderful writing, as always. Sorry for your loss.

  9. 9psaturn on Mar 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm:

    Hi Zomb!

    I loved this article you wrote. It was full of humanity and your observations and experiences were corroborated by other friends that went through the same thing at hospices.

    It was interesting to note that those folks who are the lowly educated and low paid have the higher human kindness to others.