After I left the vet’s office, it got me thinking about the debate of euthanasia for humans. The ethics of it all and the common sense of it.
At one point in my life it I thought it would be a good idea. To help a dying, suffering patient to peacefully end their lives on their terms seemed like a humane thing to do. I saw too many patients suffer in pain for days and weeks and months before they finally died.
As I was thinking about it this week I thought, who can really make that decision? If the patient is so ill they cannot make an informed decision, who could really make that decision for them mother, father, or child. And then is the patient saying they want it because there s no hope for recovery, or because they have some psychiatric problem and want a way out.
Also, as a nurse could I really administer the medication, even to somebody that I knew, in my heart and mind was better put out of their suffering.
But the slippery slope really is: what is suffering? Pain? Difficulty breathing? Heart Failure? Depression? Psychiatric issues? I think any patient suffering from one of these issues could tell you that their suffering would end if they ended their life.
Where would I, as a nurse, draw the line? Could I administer the meds for somebody with pain from inoperable cancer that is resistant to other therapies? Maybe. Could I for a patient with pulmonary hypertension resistant to treatment that can’t breath? Possibly. Could I do it for a patient with depression so debilitating that they feel they would be better off dead? No.
I don’t know the answer. But I do know that I am grateful that I was able to help my dog end his suffering.
Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed.
Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university.
Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.
By Rob Cameron