“For heterosexual men, bar none, the most consistent fantasy I hear, year after year, is about having an enthusiastic partner who is having a genuinely good time and is freely expressive and responsive to his touch. It may be memories from a previous (particularly hot) sexual experience, or it may be images from porn, or it may be fantasy about a secret crush. But in every case, the woman is enjoying herself immensely and having multiple orgasms.
On April 24, nurses and associates across Advocate Health Care went to Springfield for the 13th annual Nurse Advocacy Day at the State Capitol. In total, over 80 Advocate nurses met with dozens of state legislators including Senate President John Cullerton and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin to discuss important health care issues.
Eight nurses from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital attended the advocacy day this year. They met with senators and state representatives on critical health care initiatives that impact their profession like the state Medicaid budget, the nurse licensure compact, which would allow nurses licensed under a reciprocal compact state to also be licensed by any state within the compact, and supporting raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco products to 21..
Most state measures are modeled on Oregon’s law, which outlines steps for patients who want assistance in death: The person must be a state resident, at least 18 years old, still able to communicate, and diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less.
Patients must make two separate oral and one written request to their physician. The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis and determine whether the patient is capable of making a decision and isn’t impaired by a mental disorder. And the prescribing physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives to medical aid-in-dying, including hospice care and pain control.
Oregon closely tracks how the law is used. Since the measure took effect in 1997, 1,967 people have received prescriptions under the law, and 1,275 have ingested the medication. Oregon data shows the median age for people who took this option in 2017 was 74.
Byock said he believes doctors who provide aid-in-dying are violating the most sacred stricture in medicine. He also believes that in most cases, it is possible to provide pain relief to dying patients and that the real problem is that quality palliative care is not universally available or embraced by the medical profession.
Byock also points out that the biggest concern of Oregon patients who used the law was not escape from pain, but their decreasing ability to enjoy their lives, loss of autonomy and loss of dignity, according to an Oregon report on its use. “Plenty of other people face those same conditions,” said Byock, including those with severe arthritis, depression or failing eyesight. “Once we go down this road, it’s a slippery slope.”
In Oregon, however, patients didn’t turn to aid-in-dying because they couldn’t get end-of-life services. About 90 percent were enrolled in hospice at the time of death, according to the most recent state data, published this year.
Byock acknowledges palliative care can’t always take away pain. It didn’t for T.J. Baudanza Jr., a onetime marketing manager who in 2015 died of colon cancer at age 32 in New Seabury, Mass. “T.J. died the way he feared he would,” said Amanda Baudanza, his widow, in an interview. “He suffered a prolonged, painful death because Massachusetts denied him the option of medical aid-in-dying.” He was in hospice in the last portion of his life.
T.J. had been a big supporter of an aid-in-dying referendum that narrowly missed passage in Massachusetts in 2012, not long after his diagnosis. Now Amanda is championing aid-in-dying in the state legislature.
“I’m Catholic, and so was T.J.,” Baudanza said, “but he and I both believed that God wouldn’t want anyone to suffer needlessly.”
In New Jersey, Susan Boyce says her lungs are doing well enough that she believes her death is still off in the distance. She doesn’t know whether she actually would take medicine that would end her life. But she knows one thing: “I want the option.”
Ollove is a reporter for Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts..
A hundred years ago, the world was struck by a nightmare scenario.
World War I was still raging. And then a suspicious disease appeared.
In the spring of 1918, the first wave of cases weren't all that bad. The death rate was low. But by November, the "mother of all flu pandemics" was spreading explosively across Asia, Europe and North America.
Known as "La Grippe," the new flu strain killed quickly and at a high rate, especially among soldiers in the war. "The boys were coming in with colds and a headache, and they were dead within two or three days," a French nurse wrote on Nov. 11, 1918, the day of the armistice. "Great big handsome fellows, healthy men, just came in and died. There was no rejoicing in Lille the night of the armistice."
Studies suggest the fatality rate was 20 times that seen in previous pandemics. Up to 2 percent of the people infected died. In the U.S., it took just five weeks to kill more than 500,000 people. By summer of 1919, a third of the world's population had been infected and at least 40 million people had died — about double the deaths caused by World War I. By this point, many people had picked up immunity to the strain, and the pandemic fizzled out.