Saturday, February 06, 2010

More questions than answers

The case of Lynn Gilderdale, the bedbound ME patient whose mother was persuaded to inject her with morphine and air - so-called "assisted suicide" - has got me wondering.

Among other things, Lynn was described as being in "constant pain". Was she seen by a chronic pain specialist? If not, why not?

She had osteoporosis, apparently, so that her bones were very fragile and she'd had fractures from just being moved in her bed. How had she been allowed to get into that condition? Lack of any exercise and sunlight would have caused it, not the ME.

She was too weak to move or even speak. Muscles atrophy through lack of use; years in bed will do that.

When did it all start?

The Guardian reported that Lynn shared her thoughts through Live Journal with online friends,
Many of them were girls and young women who suffered the same illness; some, such as Lynn, had been confined to their beds and housebound for years as a result of ME.
Why do we hear so much about girls with ME, and hardly anything about boys? Is there a tendency for teenage girls to exploit other people's sympathy when they develop problems, such as eating disorders, so that being ill becomes a form of escape?

Why do we hear about these young women's reliance on their carers, usually parents or spouses? What about those who don't have anyone to care for them? Do they quietly waste away in hospitals or care homes? If so, I've never heard about them.

I've been ill for 23 years but I don't have anyone to look after me. If I've had a setback, it's taken a few weeks to regain some of the physical strength I've lost due to inactivity - I'm currently taking short walks most days, after doing very little while recovering from an infection. If I didn't make an effort, I'd inevitably become weaker. Do the carers for these young women do too much for them? Do the young women resign themselves to victimhood?

I watched the Richard Dimbleby Lecture by Terry Pratchett the other day, and I agree with him that, in certain circumstances, we should have the right to die. However, I suspect that Mrs Gilderdale was manipulated into killing her daughter, that the process started a long time ago, and that it need not have happened.

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