Quality of Life

Last night, I ran across an article about an injured Indiana hunter who decided to take himself off life support. Tim and Abbey Bowers were just married in August. They were young and had everything going for them including a baby on the way. Then one day while hunting, Tim fell sixteen feet from a tree and was severely paralyzed. Doctors said he wouldn’t be able to walk, eat, or even breathe on his own, and his life expectancy would be pretty low.

His family requested that he be brought out of a medically induced coma so he could decide what to do about his life. When his sister, a nurse, asked him if he wanted to live like this, he shook his head. He passed away several hours after the breathing tube was removed. You can read Tim’s story here.

For six years, my late husband Bill lived with partial paralysis as a result of two strokes. The only things he could do independently were breathe, eat, and operate his computer, radio, and talking book players. Tim Bowers wouldn’t have been able to do even that.

Some could say that Tim Bowers might have made a more educated decision if he had an opportunity to meet others in his condition, but I doubt it. Although people who are blind, deaf, or suffering from other physical disabilities can still live productive lives, are there others who are severely paralyzed with a short life expectancy who are having or had a good quality of life? I don’t think so.

As for Tim Bowers, I applaud his family for allowing him to make his own decision. I’m sure it was hard for them. It wasn’t easy for me when I finally had to move Bill to a nursing home after caring for him for six years. About a month later, after a downhill battle, he stopped eating. He died three days after that. I could have insisted the staff use whatever drastic measures were available to keep him alive, but I knew he was tired of living with the use of only one arm and leg so I let him go. He and Tim Bowers are both in a better place. I have to believe that. What do you think?

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

 

Two of my poems have been published in Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look, and you can view a book trailer here. The book can be ordered from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To learn more about my association with Behind Our Eyes, read today’s post on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. For more information about Behind Our Eyes, click here.

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6 thoughts on “Quality of Life

  1. Abbie, I learned from watching my husband and my sister suffer long bouts of illness that there are things worse than death. Several times my sister told me she thought it was time for her to go and I believe she was ready. My husband said at one time, “I wish I could just go to sleep and not wake up.” I do not fear death myself, now that I have seen so much of it. Living in pain, or with no quality of life, or hope of getting better would make me want to end it all, I think. I believe that we should be allowed to leave this world when we are in desperate shape and don’t want to fight anymore. It is sad to me when a family keeps someone alive for their own selfish reasons, not thinking about what the ill person wants and needs. Good subject.

  2. It doesn’t matter what we think but what God thinks that counts. Allowing assisted suicide is still self murder. Life is God’s to give and take, not ours. Furthermore, allowing assisted suicide leads to people assuming that somebody is unworthy of life. Who are we to judge if somebody is having quality of life? As people lose respect for the sanctity of life, people will make decisions based on their own feelings. Being the victim of government folks who thought I belonged in a blind school far from my home, I don’t want some bureaucrat thinking I’m just life unworthy of life. It’s just the start of the expansion of bureaucratic power. What if somebody determines that being blind is a fate worse than death and that the only compassionate thing to do is put disabled folks to sleep like unwanted dogs? It happened in Germany during the Nazi period and it will hapen here if we don’t join Joni Ericson Tada and others opposing this anti-human idea.

    • Hi Bruce, I agree that the government, family members, or doctors shouldn’t determine whether a person with a disability should live or die. In this case, Tim Bowers made his own decision, not the government or his family or his doctor. Thank you for your comment.

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