By Published On: 16 August 2013451 words2.3 min read

breathe

I thought my dad was going to die on July 15th.

Another trip to the emergency room – something we’d grown accustomed to over the past five or six months. But this time was worse. “Deep coma.” “Call your family.” “Without intubation, he’ll aspirate.”

Here’s the thing: while things were certainly bleak and the illness that would end my dad’s life eleven days later wasn’t going anywhere, he didn’t die on July 15th. In fact, against the ER doctor’s opinion of how things would go, he came out of the coma. He fought for his life. And every day he told us he wanted to go home.

I was up late one night a few days later, trying to watch a movie, looking for a distraction from the week’s events and busy schedule, and I kept going back to a thought: Even those who suffer, who lack the quality of life we all strive for, want to live. I do not blame terminally ill people who don’t want to live anymore; it’s not an easy thing to lose everything you hold dear. It’s not an easy thing to want to go home, only to wind up back in the hospital week after week. It’s not an easy thing to want to get up out of bed and walk, not understanding that you are too weak to do so. It’s not an easy thing to be told you’ve been approved to go outside on a beautiful, sunny day, only to be stuck in bed because they couldn’t procure a wheelchair.

I can’t help but think of the animals we confine for our own uses. Please do not misunderstand: I am not comparing a hospital bed to a gestation crate, or a doctor to a factory farmer (though some of them could use a class in bedside manner). But I keep thinking about how human and non-human animals have an interest in common: continuing to breathe. Even faced with the worst, they want to escape it.

I first saw the following video two years ago and cannot get it out of my head. While there is no graphic violence shown, the animal’s terror as he realizes death is in front of him and he tries to get away from it is something that has remained with me ever since.

I often wonder what I would do if I was in a situation where I knew I was going to die. Would I fight? Would I try to run? Would I lay down and let it happen?

I wish that when our times came, we all could slip away peacefully and painlessly. If only we were so lucky.

Photo credit: reway2007 via Flickr

By Published On: 16 August 2013451 words2.3 min read

breathe

I thought my dad was going to die on July 15th.

Another trip to the emergency room – something we’d grown accustomed to over the past five or six months. But this time was worse. “Deep coma.” “Call your family.” “Without intubation, he’ll aspirate.”

Here’s the thing: while things were certainly bleak and the illness that would end my dad’s life eleven days later wasn’t going anywhere, he didn’t die on July 15th. In fact, against the ER doctor’s opinion of how things would go, he came out of the coma. He fought for his life. And every day he told us he wanted to go home.

I was up late one night a few days later, trying to watch a movie, looking for a distraction from the week’s events and busy schedule, and I kept going back to a thought: Even those who suffer, who lack the quality of life we all strive for, want to live. I do not blame terminally ill people who don’t want to live anymore; it’s not an easy thing to lose everything you hold dear. It’s not an easy thing to want to go home, only to wind up back in the hospital week after week. It’s not an easy thing to want to get up out of bed and walk, not understanding that you are too weak to do so. It’s not an easy thing to be told you’ve been approved to go outside on a beautiful, sunny day, only to be stuck in bed because they couldn’t procure a wheelchair.

I can’t help but think of the animals we confine for our own uses. Please do not misunderstand: I am not comparing a hospital bed to a gestation crate, or a doctor to a factory farmer (though some of them could use a class in bedside manner). But I keep thinking about how human and non-human animals have an interest in common: continuing to breathe. Even faced with the worst, they want to escape it.

I first saw the following video two years ago and cannot get it out of my head. While there is no graphic violence shown, the animal’s terror as he realizes death is in front of him and he tries to get away from it is something that has remained with me ever since.

I often wonder what I would do if I was in a situation where I knew I was going to die. Would I fight? Would I try to run? Would I lay down and let it happen?

I wish that when our times came, we all could slip away peacefully and painlessly. If only we were so lucky.

Photo credit: reway2007 via Flickr

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  1. nzveganalien August 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    The video is so horrible. I could barely watch it but did and feel that watching stuff like that does connect us more to our humanity and makes us better for it.

    In relation to your question as horrible as it is I feel we would definitely fight for our lives even if we knew we would die. I feel that’s a natural response. That’s why watching the cow is so familiar because I feel we know on some level we’d be the same.

    I like your distinction of maybe if you are very frail in some way and know you may die there can be a wanting to be away from pain and a reflection on a good life maybe. I guess in the clip we see a picture of a non-human animal who could in a different situation just be outside with friends grazing.

    The clip reminds me of things I’ve read of human executions particularly with gas chambers when the sentences are advised to breathe in the gas but simply can’t and struggle horribly until death. Every Earthling I guess has that will to live and won’t die in a situation where they shouldn’t have to voluntarily until the bitter end. Just my view anyway.

    so horrible :(