Thursday, December 3, 2015

Man in the High Castle

This blog post is a wee bit selfish.  I recently binge-watched the first season of an amazing show called Man in the High Castle.  (I don’t want to be a commercial, but if you search that one really big online retailer, you might find it.)  This show is based on a book by the same name written by Phillip K. Dick.  Let’s just say I enjoyed the show so much that I requested the book from our local library and am patiently awaiting its arrival.  (I’m also hoping there will be a Season 2, which is the selfish part of this post…).

The show begins with an alternate history.  The Allies lost World War II to the Axis powers and now the eastern half of the country is controlled by Germany and the Western half is controlled by Japan.  There is much more to the story, but an interesting outcome of this power shift is that Nazi philosophies are simply a way of life in the United States.  In one scene, a main character asks why it appears to be snowing.  The response is a something like “Oh, that’s the hospital.  It’s Tuesday.  They burn the terminally ill and elderly”.

Later in the show, one of the Nazi leaders discovers that his son has a degenerative disease.  When he requests a second opinion, he is gently reminded by his physician that if anyone else finds out about the diagnosis, it will become an “institutional” issue and the father will no longer have a choice about time/place to end his son’s life.  He is given a kit to take home and use at his convenience.

Wow.  We talk about assisted suicide in our country and some states have even legalized it for certain diagnoses (Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California).  These rights are given to mentally competent patients only, and a long list of criteria must be met.  After that, it is up to the patient to take the prescribed lethal dose of medication and only if they decide to go through with it.  No one can assist and it can certainly never be imposed.

Watching this show was an excellent reminder of the healthcare freedoms we have in our country.  We can seek a second opinion any time we like.  In most cases, we can choose our own physicians.  We can always refuse procedures and even when we face tough choices, we can request an audience with an ethics committee to help us make those difficult decisions.

Healthcare in our country is not without problems or controversy.  However, sometimes it is necessary to step back and be thankful for the freedoms we hold dear.

Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP; CHES


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