March 23, 2005

Governor Bush and the Percutaneous Gastrostomy Tube
Or, Seize the Moment


I was relaxing in the central lounge when the other Democratic party member and resident here at “Prickly Palace” approached my over-stuffed couch grinning from ear to ear.

“Do you mind if I sit next to you, Isaac?”

“Sure,” I said. “As long as you don’t mind it being rumored throughout the manor that you’ve turned gay and are having an affair with me.”

“Are you being a bit paranoid?”

“Some of the old Republican biddies will make hay of it, I’m sure. Be that as it may, you look like the cat that is about to drop the mouse on my doorstep.”

“Actually, I do have some information I’m sure you’re going to enjoy.”

“Shoot.”

“I was listening to the news this morning and they were talking about Gee-Double-yah’s history with Feeding tube law.”

“And.”

“It seems that as governor of Texas he signed a bill into law that allows the tube, or any other apparatus designed to keep brain injured persons alive to be removed, turned off, disconnected, unplugged, whatever. In Texas you have to be able to pay your own way, or… In fact two hospital patients died in Texas this past week alone as a result of the law’s application.”

*

“Are you sure you understood what was being said?”

“What, are you saying I’m deaf, senile, or both?”

“Actually, both, just as am I.”

“I may be senile, but deaf I am not, and I was so stunned by what I heard that I wrote it down. Look.”

Of course, this information is second hand, so I cannot yet verify, though you’d better believe I will check it out. However, I couldn’t wait to report it.

Later same evening -I found it atAlterNet.*

What Does the Insertion of the Tube Entail?

Just so everyone is on the same page, given the controversy over Terri Schiavo’s life and tube, I thought it might be helpful to know something about how doctors view the tube. A good place to start is the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, Role of Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy. The site not only discusses how the insertion of the tube is accomplished, but why and when the surgery is necessary. If one reads carefully it is easy to understand that this is an extreme measure aimed at prolonging a life when that life’s quality is already extremely poor. I guess the question is - how does one prevent other persons from artificially prolonging ones life when one is terminally ill and / or brain dead?


* “Enteral feeding and aspiration pneumonia in the frail patient, The Hong Kong Practitioner, Volume 24 / August 2002, http://www.hkcfp.org.hk/article/2002/08/page390_394ua.html, viewed Wednesday, March 23, 2005, 4:28 PM EST.

*Montopoli, Brian, "No Life Support for You,"AlterNet.org,"http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/21571/," Posted March 23, 2005, visited Wednesday, March 23, 2005, 6:17 PM EST.


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