Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Good Son

"It's very difficult for me to discuss the facts of the case with him. When I started to read the police report, he just broke down. He put his head into his hands and was sobbing."
"You're 62 years of age. You've never been involved in the criminal justice system. Your mom dies and you're in custody because of this?"
" I can't imagine a more horrible scenario for this fellow."
Mike Cook, lawyer for the defence

"To me it seems like it must have been a misunderstanding."
"Did she really want to lie there in pain for five days, or was it a fear that if you called someone, they would force her to be resuscitated or have care?
"It's absolutely possible to get comfort care (morphine, a catheter, etc.), but not have any treatments that you don't want."
"Care is a broad term, so the education I'd like to give people is to know that you always have the right to refuse a treatment."
"So if she didn't want to go to hospital, [it's] absolutely her right. She didn't want surgery, absolutely her right. But she still could have been given comfort care, and I think had a much more peaceful way to die."
"She clearly wanted comfort care only and wanted to end her life, but she didn't have to do that on a floor, and I suspect in some pain probably from a broken hip."
Wanda Morris, CEO, Dying With Dignity

Ron Siwicki (left) and late mother Betty. Photos from Ron Siwicki's Facebook page and YouTube account.Ron Siwicki (left) and late mother Betty. Photos from Ron Siwicki's Facebook page and YouTube account.

What patience, what devotion from a son to a mother. Repaying, in essence, the mother's investment of love and nurturance for a child that is her son. Of course, with mother at age 89 and son aged 62, though the mother-son relationship remains intact, the son is no longer the child once so dependent on his mother's attention. The positions reverse themselves. With the son devotedly living with his mother, it is the mother who then requires at her advanced age and health disabilities, including dementia, the attention and compassionate care given her.

Such a primary relationship. It is admirable, quite, that a 62-year-old would fashion his life around the care and comfort of a mother in her extreme elderly condition of failing health and advance toward the inevitable. Friends of Ron Siwicki of a Winnipeg, Manitoba address attest to his concerns for his mother's well-being, a dutiful son. He "always carried out his mother's wishes", said one long-time friend.

"Perhaps this was not a wise thing to do here", added Henry Kreindler, also of Winnipeg, in considering the situation that Ron Siwicki has got himself into, and the illegal criminal action he is held to have taken in his obedience to his mother's wishes. Betty Siwicki, mother of Ron, is no longer. She died a painfully excruciating death, refusing care, insisting that she be allowed to finally die, that no measures be taken to prolong a life she clearly meant to leave.

In refusing any kind of medical care that would prolong the life that Betty Siwicki was denying, she was in her legal right under Canadian law. But Canadian law does not state that people intending to die, refusing extraordinary treatment to prolong encroaching death, must die unattended by medical professionals, in pain and suffering before death finally makes its dilatory visit to release her from life's cruel grip.

In her dying days and hours Betty Siwicki could and should have been offered palliative care. The medical community is prepared, as it should be, to proffer that compassionate end as a basic human right. Betty Siwicki had no intention of being subjected to end-of-life life-support. By law doctors cannot insist on providing invasive care if the patient has no wish to receive it. To do so would be to open themselves to potential assault charges.

Betty Siwicki collapsed in her bedroom and lay there, injured and in pain on the floor for five days, with her son obedient to her wishes, leaving her there, but thoughtfully providing the blanket she requested. He also gave her protein drinks on occasion, at her request. Obviously among his other traits, he is a man of patience, and he waited as she bid him, to allow her to die. Dignity, obviously had no part in this very intimate drama.

On her death, Ron Siwicki, the bereft son, was arrested. And charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life. One of the charges is more commonly reflected by situations of extreme child neglect, the other by situations of criminal neglect; like drinking and driving. After all, Ron Siwicki chose to be obedient to a mother not quite capable at that point of making logical decisions yet he abided by her rule, though he need not have, and spared her the agony she suffered before dying.

Perhaps this was indeed not a wise thing to do.

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