Monday, April 22, 2013
When I was at Wabash College between 1952 and 1955, the national Decathlon was held. At that time, the Reverend Bob Richards was an outstanding pole vaulter, nicknamed the vaulting vicar. I had the privilege of eating breakfast with him at the start of the second day of track and field events. His forearms seemed to have more muscle than my thighs.
He was behind a younger athlete in scoring for the five events of the first day. He shared with me how much he would like to win, but that would take everything going his way through the day ahead.
I was serving soft drinks at the high jump event where the leading, young athlete had missed twice at the present height. This was Bob Richards chance to overtake him. If he missed his third attempt, he would be scored at his prior successful height.
Amazingly, Bob Richards went over to him and said, "You can make this jump. You are planting your foot a little bit too far away from the bar." Bob Richards took a silvery gum wrapper and placed it carefully in front of the bar saying, "If you plant your foot on this, I think you can clear it."
I was stunned, knowing how much Bob Richards wanted to overtake the young athlete, and yet, here he was helping him.
Then it really hit me. The leading athlete and his coach never hesitated with thoughts that Bob Richards might be trying to sabotage him. With confidence, he planted his foot firmly on that gum wrapper, glinting in the sun, as though it were a scripture from the Bible and cleared the bar.
I don't remember who won the high jump, but Bob Richards won the Decathlon.
As I saw Bob Richards on the package of Wheaties as a Breakfast of Champions, I thought how favored I was to have witnessed such a great athlete and one with such an unquestioned reputation of sportsmanship.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"The more the elements necessary for proper behavior of a consumer and a vendor are removed from the the point of transaction, the more irresponsible the result." David F. Thomas
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Some of it was used by the obviously futile goal of living forever. Learn from that and accept the official reality of "quality-adjusted years of life expectancy" as your guide. This will be determined by a government that has your entire electronic medical record and control over the delivery of what medical care they decide you warrant. Who better to know your worth? Study the authorized course in thanatology and end of life decisions early so that you will have perfected the psychological mechanisms of coping with death. Death will be the easier frustration with which to cope. You will be prevented from using your own assets to obtain existing medical services to fight it. After all, communal egalitarianism is the new foundation and must be honored, avoiding the greediness of self reliance and the quest to excel for yourself and your family. What medical care the government has deemed it can't afford for the masses, should be foregone with quiet acquiescence.
The example of consideration by the state of Oregon in denying a patient a cancer drug under the state's program of care with the compassionate touch of assuring the patient in the same letter that doctor-assisted suicide, however, is a covered benefit is a forerunner of the coming era.
Government officials will not be part of this program because of the ethically sensitive need to maintain an arms-length distance from it which will enhance objective management of it.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The following was written by my grandson Joshua Thomas
when he was twelve years old showing his thoughts
on what it would have been like on that fateful day.
September 11, 2001
A day like the rest, filled up with fun
Summer is ending
Daylight is shorter
Daddy is yet to come home.
Dinner is soon
Why isn't he here?
All I know is sirens are near.
Mom is cooking, I am thinking
Then she flips on the news
Every channel is the same
Headlines read, "Who's to blame?"
Below is a picture
of smoke and rubble.
Momma's face has changed
Pale and white, astonished?
I ask her what's wrong
Tears are replying, rushing, falling
Sirens are blaring
Saturday, February 7, 2009
San Diego, California
June 30, 1998
This is an expression of my desires, in addition to other communications, relevant to my Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, to guide the attorney-in-fact in making decisions regarding my health care in the event that I should be incompetent. All of the decisions that I request be made are, to me, acts of kindness, respect and love.
I believe that medical care should strive to add life to one’s years more than years to one’s life; that is, the quality with which one lives has an overriding value rather than the length of a life markedly deficient in those things that bring a sense of joyful expectation of the morrow. I have had a life that has enjoyed the cerebral realm more than the physical. To continue to live devoid of major cognitive abilities would be most unacceptable. I have tried to be of value to others and don’t want that to be erased by years of being burdensomely dependent on others - a burden as I, not they, would see it. I don’t want to live after dementia has robbed me of the joy of recognizing my friends and loved ones or the thrill of learning a new concept.
Death is not the enemy. Death is the natural, ordained end to this life. Its associated grief should be transient and supplanted by the joy and vigor provided by the birth and growth of children. What one receives from one’s parents is not owed equally back to them, but is properly given to the youngest generation, providing an onward flow of wealth in the fullest sense of love, wisdom and assets. Inordinate expenditures to fight an inevitably-losing battle against the death of the old should not be made at the sacrifice of the welfare of the young.
I have an abiding comfort in the grace of God and accept the assurances of the Christian faith. I have engaged the idea of atheism and have found it wanting for me. I have been unable to envision the existence of life and the universe without an ultimate consequence that can only be provided by the concept of God.
I am specifically concerned about the possibility of developing dementia (like my dad and friend have had) that is not yet successfully treatable, although there are innumerable other situations to which the concepts expressed here would also apply. There is a familial tendency and some specific genes are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but the causal relationship is not absolute. Were I to start having symptoms of AD, I would have the option of committing suicide. To do that would require a sufficient level of competence and therefor would have to be timed early in the course of the disease. That might waste some time of worthwhile life to ensure against slipping into a state incapable of committing suicide.
Alternatively, I would like to be assured, that should I develop dementia, I would not have any life-threatening process interrupted by medical treatment. In case of my dementia, I request that the attorney-in-fact refuse any medical treatment of a life-threatening illness no matter how simple or effective such treatment might be. The attorney-in-fact need not understand the nature of the disease or the usual medical treatment available to treat it.
Intravenous morphine, or comparable drug, should be given in sufficient quantities to relieve all pain and discomfort (narcosis) even though that might necessarily be acutely fatal via effects on blood pressure, breathing etc. Pneumonia is a common event in more advanced dementia. Antibiotics and oxygen should not be given. Instead, morphine should be given to relieve the distress of respiratory failure, recognizing that it would aggravate the basic failure in respiration while relieving the distress of the failure. Narcosis, in whatever situation, would be associated with inability to drink fluids normally. No fluids should be given by alternate routes to maintain hydration, just that quantity necessary for administration of morphine or drugs similarly intended for relief of pain. The basic illness and the dehydration should provide a death without prolonged delay, a matter of a few days at most.
This document is for use by the attorney-in-fact in fulfilling my desires. Although, it may be shown to the doctors involved in my care to demonstrate that the attorney-in-fact has been told of my desires, it is the function of solely the attorney-in-fact to interpret it. No one else is to use it to argue the appropriateness of the decisions that the attorney-in-fact makes. I have executed the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and chosen the attorney-in-fact and alternates knowing that they will be benefactors from my death. No one is to impugn the ensuing decisions on that basis. Should any doctor be unwilling to provide pain-relieving care when prevented from providing life-saving treatment, the services of a compliant doctor should be obtained.
Someone might argue that as long as life exists there is a chance of a new drug being discovered for dementia that would restore desirable life. I understand that argument at this time and deem the reasons behind this document make the risk of foregoing such a satisfactorily restored life a reasonable risk to take. After all, young, healthy people risk losing the desirable, full life that they have in exchange for dangerous recreational activities. What I am asking is that an undesirable life be allowed to end at the risk of foregoing a chance of a satisfactory life for a relatively short additional time of life expectancy.
Again, there are many other disorders analogous to dementia to which the principles expressed here would apply.
David F. Thomas