Give me drugs or give me death

medical and lab assistant

Last night, in the wee hours of the morning, I heard a lady screaming that people were trying to kill her. Normally this doesn’t faze me because I hear people cry out like this almost every night I work. You see, I work in many different nursing homes and I am used to seeing our elderly, many of whom fought so valiantly for the world’s freedom, in such a painfully demented and anxiety-ridden state.

What got my attention here was that this lady is normally very peaceful. She has some form of advanced dementia but she used to be happy and always made me laugh with her wry humor. She had told me once that she “Loved my nice red, round, fat face” and, despite giving me the urge to get my butt to the gym, I loved seeing hers too.

Tonight, though, she was inconsolable and her face was wrenched in agony at the many unseen terrors that were assailing her.

At the nurses station I asked what was wrong with her and the nurse told me with disgust that her son or daughter thought she was on too many medications and convinced her doctor to remove many of them.

The result is that this woman now lives in a world filled with anxiety, terror and serious mental anguish.

I myself do not believe in heaven or hell for that matter, but I’ve come to realize that hell does exist for many of our elderly and I loathe the war against drugs that makes this situation socially acceptable.

My response to the nurses was that when I am old and in pain or mental anguish that I want drugs—a lot of them. They all agreed. It only makes sense to provide comfort to people who have no hope of getting better from the rigors of advanced age and the pain and terror that inevitably comes with it. Eventually, when I am in that situation, the very last thing that I want left to me—after my liberty, sanity and dignity are ripped away from my grasp—is peace and comfort.

When I finally do succumb to old age I want to be comfortable and free of the terror caused by Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause years of pain and suffering.

Is that really too much to ask from our loved ones?