Thursday 10 August 2006

Palliative Care

Following on from my post on the case of Tony Bland and where that has landed us today, Paulinus has written an excellent article on how hydration and feeding should be provided and the role of palliative care.

He put the URL in the comments box, but I think it's much too good to get hidden away there: so click HERE for it !

Sleeping Beauty

Fr Nicholas of Roman Miscellany has put up a post showing the death mask of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Not that I'm obsessed with the way I look, but I couldn't help reflecting that, judging from the death mask, she looked a lot better dead than I do first thing in the morning...

Wednesday 9 August 2006

Tempus Fugit

Ever get the impression that life is whizzing by faster and faster as the years pile up? Well the sensation wasn't helped this morning when I heard on the radio that Harrods, the famous store in Knightsbridge, London, UK has just opened its Christmas department... yes, in August !

...Hurry, hurry, hurry !! Only 117 shopping days till Christmas (I refuse to include Sundays in that!)

Book Meme Update

I found that both Fr. Stephanos and Thomas took up my book meme challenge (though Fr. Stephanos saw someone else's tag first.)

I particularly liked Thomas's choice of book for a desert island (Thompson's Practical Guide to Shipbuilding.) However, a comment on his post really impressed me. Dim Bulb declared that the book he'd really wished had been written was The Decline and Fall of the Culture of Death by John Paul II...

Wow. I wish I'd thought of that one!

Tuesday 8 August 2006

Death by Dehydration

Reading Fr. Tim's post on NHS patients being denied food and fluids because this was classed as "medical treatment" reminded me about the Bland ruling. It's referred to a lot in Pro-Life circles, but it occurred to me that it happened quite a few years ago, and some readers may not be aware of how awful the case was.

Having worked as an auxiliary nurse to help pay my way through my degree, I had lots of nursing friends. They were able to tell me some of the inside information that didn't seem to make it to the papers.

Tony Bland had been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state after having sustained crush injuries in the Hillsborough Disaster. However, he was not in any pain or distress. It was decided to withdraw food and fluids, and the justification for this was that artificial feeding and hydration constituted medical treatment.

Quite apart from the realisation that this was the thin end of the wedge in allowing euthanasia by neglect, my nursing friends pointed out that dehydration was such a painful way to die that Tony Bland actually needed to be given strong painkillers to alleviate the agony caused (which was clearly visible to the staff nursing him)...

It is a very short step from giving drugs to alleviate the "discomfort" associated with the withdrawal of food and fluids to giving a lethal injection to hasten the death of a patient who isn't being given such basic nursing care. Some people will say that this is scare-mongering, that it's too far-fetched, and that there will be plenty of controls and checks to prevent this... but before Tony Bland, it was unthinkable to deliberately starve a person to death.

The Downside of Owning a Cat

Further to yesterday's post, I have decided that there is one thing worse than treading on a dead mouse first thing in the morning...

...and that is finding the deceased rodent on one's duvet !

Monday 7 August 2006

Of Mice and Men

Oh dear! I was chatting about my cat to a friend this afternoon, and made the comment that Sylvester was too old and fat to succeed in catching anything other than the bowl of catfood I give him.

Obviously he heard me... this evening I was presented with my very own mouse, and it wasn't even chewed yet. Sylvester obviously felt that I ought to be given lessons in mouse-hunting, because the rodent was still alive, though petrified into immobility. Every few seconds Sylvester would bat the mouse with his paw until it moved, and then put his paw firmly on the mouse's tail to stop it getting away.

Working on the theory that eventually the mouse would make a break for it, and its little mouse-corpse would stink the flat out from behind the fridge, I retrieved the rodent and threw it back out into the garden. Hopefully it's a one-off.

Unfortunately last year Sylvester made a habit of bringing me little presents (although it was earlier in the year, which is why I thought I'd escaped - and so had the mice) many of which were partially chewed. This isn't so bad when you first get given them, but is rather less than pleasant when you wake up in the morning and step in the remains of one which you had been presented with when asleep!

The worst moment was when I rescued one mouse which was being used as a demo. I retrieved it from under Sylvester's paw, but then it bit me before I could pick it up by the tail (mice seem to have a reflex which makes them "freeze" if you pick them up by the tail; I think their mothers carry them like this. Rats on the other hand do not have this reflex, and have been known to shed their tail casings)

So I have to wait and see whether we now have declared open season on mice...
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