The medical advisor

If you want to die at home, my advice would be, don’t go to a hospital. Perhaps this will strike gentle reader as a remark overweighted on the side of the obvious; but there is some method in some of my madness. So I will begin with a careful qualification: my advice holds for Canada, and the United Kingdom, but not for all of those Natted States. (I realize there are other jurisdictions.) And even there, the impossibility of fixing “Obamacare,” without further extending its unrepealable “entitlement” provisions, shows the end is coming, soon. But in Canada and UK, the future has been here for some time.

The reason, of course, is that at these higher latitudes we have so-called “single-payer” “healthcare” systems in which, as we have been reminded lately, all decision-making is concentrated in the caring-sharing State, or as I prefer to call her, Twisted Nanny. Once the paperwork is complete, and the customer has progressed from the outer to the inner waiting rooms, he is entirely in her power. He may, after reviewing her apparatus (both surgical and managerial), want to go home and die there. But she is unlikely to release him, and it will require the assistance of loyal friends and family to effect the equivalent of a prison break. (Tip: staff tend to be at their least attentive during the conventional sleeping hours.)

You see, Twisted Nanny likes to watch people die. She can become quite annoyed when others appropriate this privilege. She also likes to kill people, and has gone to considerable trouble to establish a monopoly in this regard. And given her latest powers, under legislation for “euthanasia,” she prefers to do it in her own facilities. She doesn’t make house calls, the way they do in Red China.

My objection to her end-of-life facilitations is actually two-fold. On the one hand, I should rather not be slain before my time. On the other, I’m not sure I would like to have my life artificially prolonged, with the help of Twisted Nanny’s machines.

For “nutrition” and “hydration” I am prepared to beg; perhaps even for the odd pain-reliever. I might happily try a cure, if one happens to be on offer. But I am otherwise in favour of letting Nature take her course. For while it is true that Nature is a mass murderer, she does not provide that individual attention for which Twisted Nanny is so feared. No fluorescent lights to stare at on the ceiling; nor tubes nor syringes; nothing to distract one from one’s prayers.

Note a certain “synergy” here. Modernity may have hatched doctors willing to kill you, having dead-lettered the Hippocratic Oath. It has also hatched patients eager to die.

It is a little-known fact, at least to the current generation, that there was a time in history before modern bureaucratic hospitals existed — when the Church provided the equivalent services, but on a purely voluntary basis, sans formalités administratives. The nursing sisters were Christian; so were the doctors with any luck.

Life was shorter in immediately previous centuries, but this had little to do with medical treatment. I refer particularly to the time before Lister and Pasteur, when (for instance) surgeons had not yet discovered the advantages of washing their hands, and public health measures were possibly even less well-informed than they are today.

We won’t go into it again, just now, but let me remind gentle reader of the interesting product of researches into life expectancy, through the mediaeval parish books. People lived longer in those days when they were in the cultural habit of washing frequently, before the Renaissance idea came into vogue that water was the principal carrier of disease, so that perfuming made more sense to them than bathing. People began to live longer again when the earlier modernist assumptions were overturned.

The idea of “killing someone for his own good” is distinctly modern; or should I say “post-modern”? (It existed in embryo with the concept of a hanging.) It requires someone other than the customer, or his closest relations, to be calling the shots. I think it will be necessary to rethink this proposition. But that may take some time, to say nothing of unpleasant experience.

In the meanwhile, my advice would be, stay away from hospitals.