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Letter: Don't listen to scare tactics

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I am amazed at the scare tactics used to misinform and frighten people. There is a campaign on conservative talk radio telling seniors that the government wants to limit their end-of-life health care.

Discussing death in this culture is still taboo for the most part, but I am here to tell you that it is a discussion worth having. Whether you are the caregiver for an aging parent or you are looking ahead to ease the burden for your own children, a frank and open discussion about end-of-life issues is as necessary as breathing!

I have a health care directive myself. My mom had one, too. My mom was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, when she was 76. Mom didn't want any "tubes", no breathing tubes; no feeding tubes. Along with hospice I cared for mom in her home, and later in my home, until she passed away.

On the Saturday morning before her death, she awoke and in the clearest voice she had had since developing ALS, she said: "I think I have forgotten how to swallow." When her husband came to visit her he panicked and insisted that something be done. We talked about all the options. I said I would call our hospice nurse and have her talk to them about the options, as well. I left mom and Bill to discuss what she wanted.

When our hospice nurse arrived, we went to my mom's room. Mom had written in big, bold letters on her writing board: NO TUBES.

My point is this: It was not my mom's husband's call, it wasn't my call, it wasn't the hospice nurse's call; it was mom's call. Her wishes were honored. She passed away on Monday evening, Sept. 9, 2002.

Don't listen to the disinformation regarding end-of-life health care. Have the frank and open discussion with your parents and/or with your children, make your wishes known. The government is not trying to "kill us off" before our time! Honest and open dialogue is what we need to reform health care in America.

Retha Dooley

Sauk Centre

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