Good questions, Mr. French.
I have three vessel inoperable heart disease. I was given a year to live
in 1984. I have had no operations. I do take about 9 different drugs,
half to counteract the side effects of the other half. I am functional
and since my death sentence, I have published seven books and 25 articles.
I have two more books coming out this year and contracts for books for the
next five years. I have run a successful consulting business from my
home and am an active speech writer for a major presidential candidate.
I also have a living will and am a member of the Hemlock society. I am,
frankly, kept alive by the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry.
Now, how much do I want? I want enough to keep me going and sentient. I
will take my nitro when my chest hurts and I will take a nap when I see
double. But I am still outproducing most 35 year olds. Cut me off when
I can't function and am not aware that I am not functioning. That's
a subtle point, but there are a lot of old people who could be useful
within defined parameters, who despair because they are not useful. They
are not dying of disease, but of boredom.
I call your attention to the Canadian medical system. The heavy duty surgery
is rationed and treatment is triaged. I could tolerate that in the U.S. I
don't believe in keeping people alive who are brain dead and I suspect
hopeless neurological cases and Alzheimer's patients should be allowed their
choice of a way out.
Remember the film "Soylent Green," the way Edward G. Robinson died, with
the movie and Beethoven's Sixth and the pill and he gently went into that
good night. I intend to go when it is my turn, but I want the choice. My
legatees have durable power of attorney. I urge those of you who are looking
to science for the fountain of youth to consider the despair of uselessness
and make sure you have room for the old people you are saving. For now,
I'll fight you for room. Next year, maybe not. Five years from now, I suspect
I'm out of here. Just give me the choice.
GERALD M. PHILLIPS
GMP at PSUVM
"Everyone should get exactly what he/she deserves -- real hard!"