LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Dog should be glad to be treated like a person

Our family has an older dog that is having some health problems. We could take her to the vet to find some help for her, but that could run into some rather high bills.

Since she really has no chance be made completely well and since she will never have the opportunity to live a full life we have decided to let her starve to death.

At first we felt bad that our dog was going to have to go through the pain and suffering that comes from death by starvation. Especially since we also decided to not give the girl any water either. Well, I am glad to tell you that our bad feelings have completely gone away!

We now know it is perfectly fine to allow a dog with health problems to starve to death. What led us to this understanding are the facts we have just recently learned.

We have learned from members of the U.S. Congress, federal judges, medical doctors and some movie stars that it is cruel to “force life” upon human beings. Human beings with medical problems that prevents them from helping themselves should be simply left to slowly die of starvation.

Hey, after all, if all these important people say it is OK to starve a human to death, then it must surely be not just OK but actually commendable to allow a sick dog to starve to death.

Maybe we will receive a good citizens award.

It sort of hurts when our old dog looks up at us with her sad eyes wondering how come we do not feed her.

If she only knew that we are doing this because we have arrive at the new-found enlightenment of the 21st century, I’m sure she would understand. She would be glad that her suffering is part of the advanced modern world we live in.

She should be proud of us. After all, we are treating her not as a dog, but as a human being.

Don Mashburn

Marion

Lessons learned from

Terri Schiavo and kids

Yesterday, as I was driving home from work, I learned a lesson from my children. I had heard discussion and opinions all day about Terri Schiavo. Anyone who has listened to the television in the last few weeks knows about Schiavo.

My children heard about her on the news at the baby-sitter’s house. “Who is that lady the president is trying to save?” they asked. And, “What is a feeding tube?”

So I began to explain the facts to them in words a 6- and 8-year-old could understand. I tried to keep my opinion to myself. I wanted to hear what they thought.

I explained Terri was a woman who had an eating disorder and it caused her to get very sick. A feeding tube, I explained can be inserted in a person’s vein, nose or stomach. It is not real food like we eat, but is provides nourishment for a person who cannot eat.

I told the children the doctor’s said that Terri’s brain didn’t work anymore, but her heart did. They told me how they learned in school that the brain is very important and it tells your body what to do.

We talked about the many ways this can happen, but that they should not worry. It is very rare, and we pray that it will never happen to them.

We talked about the adults who are arguing the issue of when a person is really dead. Some believe it is when your heart and brain stop working, while others believe it is when your brain stops working. In either case, I said, it is very sad for the family.

That’s when I learned lesson No. 1, a lesson in faith. My 8-year-old son said, “Mommy, can we pray for Terri?” A total stranger. Someone we only knew from the news. I was humbled that I hadn’t thought of it sooner.

I told the kids that I was planning to write a letter to the newspaper about advance directives, which are pieces of paper that people can sign that direct others what to do if something like this happens to them.

I explained that parents take care of their children when they are under 18, but adults need to sign the papers so other adults know what to do.

For you the reader, advance directives are documents that state a patient’s choices about treatment, including decisions such as refusing treatment, being placed on life-support, and stopping treatment at a point the patient chooses. It also includes requesting life-sustaining treatment if that is wanted.

There are several kinds of advance directives, but the two most common are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care (DPOA). They are both recognized by Kansas statutes.

Simply stated, a living will allows any adult to sign a form that states life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn when decision-making capacity is lost and when such procedures would merely prolong death.

The DPOA for health care is a document in which a person gives someone else the right to make decisions about health care for him or her should they become unable to make those decisions.

If Terri Schiavo would have had an advance directive, none of us would have heard of her. Such documents can provide insight and peace of mind for patients and families.

After my explanation, there was silence in the car for a few miles. I thought the kids were listening to the music, but then my 6-year-old daughter spoke up.

“Mommy, if my brain ever stops working but my heart is still working, I want to give my heart and lungs to somebody who is sick so they can be better.”

I learned a lesson in compassion.

The book “The Purpose-Driven Life” challenges us to find the purpose in our life. Why are we here?

Perhaps Terri Schiavo’s life had multiple purposes. The struggle of Terri and her family has taught many of us the importance of advance directives.

But I’ll always remember Terri Schiavo as the woman who taught me about faith and compassion.

Marsha Meyer

Tampa

Editor’s note: For more information on advance directives, contact Hillsboro Community Medical Center or St. Luke Hospital, or visit www.hcmcks.org and click on the “Medical Forms” link.

One small correction to quilting article

I wish to express my appreciation to the Free Press for its fine coverage of the Mennonite Relief Sale (March 23) coming up.

There is one small correction that needs to be made. The person who donated her quilting to the MCC quilt that we gave was not Florence Friesen, but Irene Seibel.

Grace Brandt

Hillsboro

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