Sarah Blake LaRose (3kitties) wrote,
Sarah Blake LaRose

migraine symptoms and thoughts on "right to die" issues

I've now had migraine symptoms for about three weeks straight, and they are worsening instead of getting better. Imitrex doesn't work to stop the migraine until I have a headache, and I haven't had a headache really yet--at least not one that leads to the end of the migraine. All I have right now is pain meds and Antivert for dizziness, and neither are doing a very good job. I am having difficulty standing up without holding on to something, and my pulse races to 120 or greater when I sit up or stand up. Lying down doesn't help a lot except to keep me from falling--I keep feeling like someone or something picks up my bed and rolls it first one way and then the other.

I'm going to the doctor tomorrow, but I don't anticipate getting any real help. I'm going because it's something to do and maybe there's some kind of off chance that he'll have a novel idea.

Someone on the migrainehelp email list asked how I'm able to stand sitting up and typing--a very important question. I forget sometimes that one detail of my situation is important. Because I am visually impaired, I use a program on my computer that reads the screen out loud. This means I can type in bed, and recently I bought a wireless keyboard so I could do just that. This helps as far as maintaining my "productivity" when the vertigo is too severe for sitting up. It has its limits though--it's hard to work when I can't think clearly, and it's hardest to be fully aware that I can't think clearly.

My migraine profile seems to fall somewhere between basilar artery migraine and hemiplegic. I have prolonged prodrome and aura and sometimes flip-flop between the two over and over with little or no headache phase. Verapamil doesn't seem to be effective--I've been on it in the past and tried it again during the winter this year. My migraine frequency decreased during that time, but it also tends to decrease in the same way during the winter without the Verapamil. Depakote was somewhat helpful, but I had metabolic difficulties due to long-term use so am very hesitant to take it again. Topamax is contraindicated for me because I have glaucoma. Elavil was a wonder drug for control but caused me to gain 30 pounds in two months and I was still gaining when it was discontinued. My eye doc advised against beta blockers for glaucoma because of my history of asthma; but the asthma has been under control for over two years with no inhalers. I'm going to ask for a beta blocker tomorrow--it's all I know left to try in the way of preventives. I did find CoQ10 very helpful but extremely costly.

What a sob story this looks like! My migraines have been poorly controlled for as long as I can remember, especially during the the last ten years, and I'm told this is why they are so bad now. I wish I had known that *all* of these symptoms were related to migraines--I knew I had migraines as a teenager but didn't have a clue how serious they were because doctors were still looking for seizures or "emotional stress." If I had known then what I know now, I could/would have pursued better treatment a lot sooner. Disability is nothing new to me, but this level of it is and I'm trying to learn to live with it and work around it. But the fighting part of me thinks there has to be some kind of relief and that three weeks is really too much time to deal with continuous symptoms. I'm relatively young, and I'd like to have a family... My heart's desire is to adopt a child, but how can I parent from bed?? And I am afraid of being medicated into oblivion. There has to be some kind of happy medium somewhere...

I did some more reading about "right-to-die" issues while I was waiting for the Antivert to kick in. I found an article called "Words, Words, Words" at that talks about something I've been feeling very strongly about for quite a while. "Right to die" is just a euphemism for "right to have help in committing suicide," which blurs easily with "reason for someone else to decide to kill a person legally because life isn't considered worth living in his/her physical condition which is never going to improve." I've been told at times that my thinking about this is irrational, that the rights of people with disabilities aren't in jeopardy, that no one would think of killing me because of my disabilities, that this isn't related to "pro-life" issues (because those are supposedly about abortion). Maybe it's comforting to be able to separate those issues. I can't.

On January 27, 1939, in an article titled, "'Mercy' Death Law proposed in State," the New York Times reported that the Euthanasia Society of America had drafted a bill to "legalize painless killing." 3 Charles E. Nixdorff, the group's treasurer, took issue with both the article's title and its reference to killing and, in a letter to the editor, he wrote that the words "killing" and "death" had sinister connotations. He suggested that it would be better to describe euthanasia as "merciful release" 4 so that the public would not fear the Society's proposal.

However neither the newspaper, nor an official of Nixdorff's own organization heeded his advice. Euthanasia continued to be described in blunt terms. The public was horrified when Dr. Foster Kennedy, president of the Euthanasia Society of America, explained that the primary purpose of his group's legislative proposal was to eventually legalize euthanasia for "born defectives who are doomed to remain defective, rather than for normal persons who have become miserable through incurable illness." 5 ...

The findings of the Remmelink Report indicated that, in one year, Dutch physicians deliberately ended the lives of thousands of patients by administering or providing lethal doses or fatal injections:

  • Twenty-three hundred people died as a result of doctors killing them upon request. 10

  • Four hundred people killed themselves with medication provided by their doctors for that purpose. 11

  • One thousand people -- an average of three each day -- died when doctors prescribed, provided, or administered a medication with the specific purpose of causing death even though the patient had made no explicit request for euthanasia. 12 Of these, 14 percent were fully competent, 13 while 72 percent of them had never given any indication regarding termination of life. 14

  • In addition, 8,100 patients died as a result of doctors deliberately giving them overdoses of pain medication with the specific intent of hastening the patient's death. 15 The decision to administer the intentional overdose was not discussed with 4,941 (61 percent) patients, even though 2,187 (27 percent) of patients who died in this manner were fully competent. 16

As indicated by the above figures, 11,800 deaths were induced by Dutch physicians in one year. Of greatest significance for this discussion is the fact that more than one half of those deaths were unrequested by the patients who died. This is clearly nonvoluntary euthanasia. But, because of the way in which the Dutch define euthanasia, those unrequested deaths are categorized as "deliberate life-terminating actions without explicit request" and fall within a classification of "terminal care." 17

In November 1996, the Dutch government released a second report based on two studies with findings strikingly similar to those of the earlier Remmelink Report. Again, there were thousands of lives directly and intentionally terminated by Dutch physicians. And, as in the previous study, intentionally induced deaths in patients who had not requested that their lives be ended were not referred to as euthanasia. Instead such deaths were categorized as "ending of life without patient's explicit request." 18

If these quotations don't demonstrate that the real issue is the discomfort of healthy people with the concept of living a satisfying life despite disability, I don't know what will. I wonder how many of these people who promote the "right to die" have ever admitted a friend or family member to the hospital for a suicide inervention. Why do that if you think someone should have such a right to choose to end his/her supposedly miserable life? It all makes me very angry, mostly because I fear the power a healthy person can have over a disabled person he/she might consider a "burden." If I become so disabled, I want to be living--preferably at home or in some kind of homelike setting--and I want to be loved and treated like a real family member--because that's what I still am!


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