We are a society of reactive people but that is not our fault. We each have our own cross to bear that blinds us to the needs of others who are less fortunate. Most times, we are caught up in the daily grind of trying to make ends meet, trying to meet deadlines, trying to keep our sanity intact. We have one thousand and one trivial chores in our minds that barely leave enough room for the essential and the genuinely important concerns that should capture our attention.
Following the news of the totally paralysed man in Hong Kong who had asked the legislators there to start a motion to legalise euthanasia yesterday, the Direction Association for the Handicapped (DAH) has initiated a fund raising drive to raise HK$5 million (RM2.4 million) to help him, identified by the media as Peng Chai. The news link is here.
The DAH is an organisation that serves the severely disabled people in Hong Kong. The amount raised will be used to acquire an electric-powered wheelchair and a portable respirator, both which would allow him a great amount of mobility and the luxury of going home, where two maids will be hired to look after him. For a man who has lived thirteen years of his life in a hospital bed, this progression will be freedom unparalleled.
On all accounts, Peng Chai is a courageous and thoughtful man. He did not want to burden his family. Only those who are nursing a family member who is totally and permanently paralysed will know the amount of mental pain and the intense labour that goes into the caring. To him, death was the only way out. To a caring society, his death wish was a slap in the face. More could have been done to help him, and that is exactly what they are doing now, only after the story was highlighted in the media. This should not be the case. Why now only after thirteen years? Still, it is never too late. I pray that Peng Chai will accept the offers of assistance and go on living. The quality of life should not be measured by health and physical abilities alone. It is the mind that makes all the difference.
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What do you do when a loved one faces prolonged suffering after all treatment options have been exhausted? What should we do when he pleads to us to help him end his sufferings? Do we continue to allow him suffer the physical and psychological pain until he passes on naturally? Or do we help him fulfil his wish?
The patient does not suffer the pain alone. It takes its toll on his family and those close to him, too. What can be more distressing than seeing a loved one who had always been active and healthy deteriorate to a state where his every need has to be taken care of? What can we do when the pain eats into his very heart and we have to wait for another three hours for his next dose of pain killers?
I am greatly disturbed after reading about the paralysed man in Hong Kong (reported here and here) who pleaded for the right to die. Being a quadriplegic myself, I can partially relate to the torment that he has to go through day after day. Unlike him, I can look after myself to a certain extent. However, he is totally paralysed, needs everything to be done for him, and breathes with the help of a machine. In addition to that, chronic and acute disabilities like this put a great mental and financial strain on his family as well.
“I lie in bed 24 hours a day,” the man wrote by tapping on a computer keyboard with his chopsticks. “I need other people’s help to eat, urinate, clean my body, turn around and sleep. I am a total invalid and a financial and mental burden to my family.”
The Strait Times, 21 April, 2003.
The question is do we help him execute his desire or do we deny him his appeals to end this torment? My faith disallows euthanasia but I have my own personal opinions regarding this issue. My views on this may be flawed and could still be based on my experiences and beliefs before I converted. Nevertheless, euthanasia is against the law in most countries. If so, how then can we improve on the quality of life of people like him who have already given up hope and looking forward to be delivered from their sufferings? Palliative care alone is truly not sufficient.
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Door Guardians are usually found on the main doors, facing out, in Chinese temples, clan and trade association buildings and old houses. Some are painted onto the doors while others are printed on paper and pasted on. They are depicted as ancient Chinese Imperial Generals in full military regalia, are ferocious looking and standing ready in a martial stance. It is the belief that the guardians prevent roaming demons and ghosts from entering the house thus protecting the inhabitants within.
Peter, Wuan and I had wanted to eat dim sum at one of the shops in Campbell Street one morning. Parking space was scarce and Peter had to drive around to look for one. He finally found a vacant space in Rope Walk, or now known as Jalan Pintal Tali, and that was where we stumbled upon this duo of guardians which looked unlike those found elsewhere. The guardians looked sedate and void of all the military garbs. Instead they were illustrated wearing noblemen?s attire and holding brass wine cups.