Friday, October 10, 2008

Suffering and sanctity

It always surprises me how many of my co-workers say, "Shoot me if I ever get like that," referring, of course, to being elderly, ill, incapacitated and in need of care. I always question them on their statement, asking if they really mean it. The invariable answer is, "Yes. I want my spouse to do me in if I ever get like that. If my quality of life ever gets so poor that I have to wear diapers and be in a care home then life would not be worth living."

This usually leads to a whole conversation about the sanctity of life and how God has the ultimate authority over when life ends. I remind them they will probably change their mind when they actually reach an advanced age where their days are numbered, and I often tell them to have lots of kids in the meantime so there will always be a family member to look after them. It is rare though, that I find agreement with my opinions; just about as rare as finding a pro-life paramedic to work or share a conversation with. So far I have stopped short of telling them about the spiritual value of suffering - I think a person needs to have faith to understand it.

Tomorrow, however, will be different. I will be attending a pro life seminar featuring Dr John M. Haas STL MDiv, and Fr Tadeusz Pacholczyk PhD, of the National Catholic Bioethics Center of Philadephia. This will be a rare opportunity for me to hear pro-life medical viewpoints about the sanctity of life, from life's conception to its natural end. I just may come away with some new ammunition to sway the opinions of those who think ending a life of suffering is a personal choice to be made by the individual who is doing the suffering.

It is often said that paramedics become jaded with time, being exposed as we are to so much trauma, suffering, psychosis, violence, drug abuse, etc.

I will never become jaded. How can I make such a bold statement when the burn-out rate is so high for people in my profession? The answer is faith. Illness and suffering take on a whole new perspective when one one looks at it as the will of God. If only people who were ill realized the value of this trial that God has sent them! I have been exposed to much pain, suffering, illness and sadness through the trials of other people, and I view this as a gift from God. It will strengthen me to face my own trials with faith. Being a paramedic is a position God has put me in to help me on the path to salvation. If, by chance or the grace of God, I can help others along the same path, I have done my job well.


Shirley said...

Have you ever asked them if they would vote in favour of euthanasia becoming law? I bet most of them would answer no, because all but the stupidest of people can see that as law, it would condone murder based on the needs of people other than the subject of the euthanasia.

Marilena said...

this brings to mind, the intense suffering i go through daily. my teeth are in so much pain that its a whole new world beyond pain. trust me. 735 $ to fix my teeth! can't afford it, so i suffer, when i say suffer, i mean suffer. all for Jesus!!!

Bright Light Software said...

There are people who don't care about the sanctity of life. That is sad. Honestly, we cannot have the attitude that suggests that we ought to care little about life. As my wife states when she suffers, All for Jesus!

Some folk in the world has a callous attitude when it comes to old age and dying, or being in a state where you could no longer care for yourself or loved one. They tend to think, pull the plug! Do me in! That kind of attitude is not condoned by God. Living out your life naturally is. Living it for God is. Respecting the sanctity of life is. Taking what comes with life, be it disease, or accident, or whatever it is, we must not have the attitude that do me in is acceptable, as it is not. Is not Euthanasia a mortal sin? One would think so. Very fine points you raise in this post. Perhaps, it will make others change their minds. Since coming into the Catholic Church, I have changed my mind a lot about what I used to believe. Especially being there every time my wife suffers intense pain. It truly makes you see how one can respect life and comfort those that suffer a lot.

Is this not what Christ wants us to do? Respect life? Indeed, it is.

paramedicgirl said...

Shirley, no, I haven't asked that question yet. I will remember to ask it next time the conversation comes up.

Marilena, I'm glad you think to offer up your daily sufferings for Jesus. Otherwise, their redemptive value is wasted.

Frank, yes it is odd that those who are in the business of saving lives don't recognize (or care about)the sanctity of life. Rather ironic, isn't it?

Tom in Vegas said...

I find the lack of respect for human life both appalling and terrifying.

Not until one of them finds themselves objectified and devalued as an unborn child will they know the taste of their own medicine.

Smiley said...

Infact if one looks at the life of great saints in the church,one notices a common thread and that is that all of them suffered tremendous physical pain. Why is this? becasue in our pain we can identify with the suffereing Savoiur. When we were young, we were taught that our pain and suffering was partt of our share of Christ's cross.
There is a reason why euthanasia has become a big deal. We have made life the centre of our life. We see this life as the be all and end all we dont see our lives as a gift from God and this a journey on which we must go thourgh. Thus when we fall ill and cant enjoy life we rush into the arms of death thinking it is better to die than to suffer any pain.
This attitude of not being able to bear pain is very inculcated in western life. Back in my home country as a child when we went to the dentist to have our teeth removed and cavitied filled, we were not administered any injections to numb the mouth. I find it very amusing that here for the slightest thing numbing agents are administered. How are we supposed to deal with pain if all our lives we have been shielded from pain? ofcourse there is the great oppurtunity to offer pain up to God but first we have to learn to feel pain.
Lastly, why do people assume that they will die in a terrible manner where they will lose all capacity and then work on from those consequences.
being a paramedic, could you statistically tell me how many people die in a terrible manner and how many die in their sleep at night?