- WHY FATIMA
- FATIMA CENTER
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Joanna Swords has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. After working as a Registered Nurse for nearly 23 years, she left her nursing career and shortly after came to work for The Fatima Center.
I want to preface this article, and similar articles to follow, God willing, by saying that I believe that the majority of doctors and nurses enter the health care profession with the true intention and desire of helping the sick; and I further affirm there are still many good doctors and nurses. However, what follows must be said because something has gone very wrong. And I believe it is necessary to warn others that from now until Our Lady’s Triumph, we must be on guard and be very careful in overseeing our own health care.
We must not place ourselves completely in the hands of health care providers but must be aware that we should be in control of our own health care and make the final decisions for ourselves so long as we are in a state to do so, or through others whom we designate to make those decisions for us if we are unable to do so ourselves. Certainly seek the advice of doctors but don’t make the mistake of thinking that the doctor knows what is best for you and accept his advice or suggestions for treatment without question. After Our Lady’s Triumph, this diabolical set of circumstances will be resolved.
Those who have been a patient in a hospital or taken a loved one to the hospital know that it is a paperwork nightmare. Indeed just going to the doctor’s office for the first time or after a long period of time has lapsed, usually involves filling out at least a few different forms.
Generally upon admittance to a hospital, one of the questions asked is, have you filled out a Health Care Proxy form or do you have a Health Care Proxy (HCP)? The Health Care Proxy (HCP) form, also referred to as “durable power of attorney for health care,” allows a person to select someone else who can make health care treatment decisions for him if for some reason he is no longer able to do so for himself. The Health Care Proxy (HCP) is the person selected.
He or she should be someone like-minded regarding the sanctity of life, and should be someone you can trust to select treatment for you according to your wishes, which, of course, should be according to Catholic teaching. One must be confident that the person he selects is able to stand firm in executing his wishes in the face of obstacles.
Here are some of the obstacles a Health Care Proxy (HCP) may face:
Generally the person we choose to be a HCP is a family member or close friend. When a loved one becomes ill and is obviously suffering, it can be difficult for people to handle and watch, and emotions can therefore affect the decisions they make regarding the treatment of the loved one who is suffering, especially when the HCP is pressured to do something contrary to the wishes of the person he is making the decisions for.
Another obstacle — a primary one — involves terminally ill patients who are in pain. The Health Care Worker (HCW) does not want to see anyone in pain and will give pain medication ordered by the doctor unless the patient refuses it. But sometimes the option to refuse is not given; that is, sometimes the pain medication is given automatically (most likely because the HCW assumes the patient needs it), without asking if the patient wants it. Therefore it is important that the HCP ask questions if the person he is helping is in the hospital and suddenly begins sleeping all the time, or if it becomes difficult or nearly impossible to wake the person up. A primary question to ask is what medicine is the person being given. In these cases where a person is automatically being given pain medication without requesting it, the effect of these medications is to render the person sleepy, disoriented or unconscious. Once that happens, the person may be considered unable to make his own decisions because he is “out of it”.
Understand in this scenario that if a person is “out of it”, it is usually because he or she is being given too much medication with a sedative effect (pain or otherwise) and that is what is causing the patient to be “out of it”. The HCP should intervene, and once he has ascertained that it is the medication which is the likely cause of the patient’s state he should advise the HCWs to stop, at least until the patient is awake enough so that he can speak with him. The Proxy may sometimes have to force the HCW to stop, with a very firm voice leaving no room for objection. The HCW may attempt to make the Proxy feel guilty for intervening by saying such things as: “You don’t want him to suffer, do you?” But the HCP needs to be persistent.
Understand that the idea of someone suffering and the fact that such suffering can be of great spiritual value seems to be foreign to many, even to Catholics. What was once an integral widely accepted part of our Holy Catholic Faith seems to have been forgotten by many Catholics, and when the idea is proposed, it is often not well received.
Another obstacle that a HCP may encounter — and this one we see in the news periodically — has to do with court cases involving family arguments about “pulling the plug”. These cases involve persons who have been given a terminal diagnosis, are unable to care for themselves, and are often in a coma, or have been declared “brain dead” by the physician. They are unable to make their own decisions. In these cases the doctor may recommend that the person be helped to die, meaning die more quickly.
The doctor may say there is no hope and nothing more that can be done for someone. If the person is on a respirator (a machine to breathe for or assist the person with breathing) or other such machinery that supports the person’s vital functions, the doctor may suggest removing the patient from the machinery.
If the person is not on any assistive machinery but is being given fluids intravenously (IV — through a needle inserted into a vein) and/or is being fed with a nutritional supplement through a nasogastric tube (NG tube — a tube going through one side of the nose down to the stomach) or through a feeding tube inserted through the abdomen into the stomach — it may be suggested that these tubes be pulled. Of course the doctor won’t say “so we can starve him to death”, but that is what it is.
In these cases the Health Care Proxy (HCP) must step in and say “no”. But he may encounter all sorts of opposition both from HCWs and, unfortunately, maybe even from family members and friends of the patient. In this time of diabolical disorientation, whatever the doctor suggests — even if it is murder referred to by another name, so long as the doctor has suggested it — for many it is okay.
Those trying to persuade the HCP to agree to such suggestions will likely resort to using those fancy terms — “death with dignity” or “right to die”, or may say “he would want this” (speaking on behalf of the terminally ill patient) — even though the HCP likely knows exactly what the wishes are of the person he is making decisions for. The HCP may be put under great pressure to go against these wishes.
The HCP should be aware that there are cases where the doctors are simply ordering the removal of the IV and feeding tubes without asking or telling anyone. Unless the HCP or a family member speaks up, the patient’s life will be ended prematurely. Contrary to what the HCP and family members may be told, starvation is a terrible way to die. It has been used as punishment in concentration camps — such as at Auschwitz during World War II, where St. Maximilian Kolbe died by starvation.
If no one objects on behalf of the person being starved to death, then a murder is committed without others being aware. But when the HCP or someone else steps in and does his duty before God — by objecting and trying to prevent this crime from occurring — that is generally when the matter becomes public.
One well-known, highly publicized case was Karen Ann Quinlan (in the 1970’s), through whom Almighty God chose to remind the world that the date and time of death of each of us is up to Him and not up to human discretion. You may recall that after being diagnosed as being in a “persistent vegetative state” for a long period of time, it was petitioned to have the ventilator (which was assisting Karen Ann with breathing) and a feeding tube (nasogastric tube) removed — reportedly with the belief that this was what was keeping her alive and that without it she would die. But God reminded the world that it is He Who was keeping her alive. The court order was given to remove the ventilator and the feeding tube. However, once the ventilator was removed and she continued to breathe on her own, the feeding tube was not removed. She lived another nine years after the ventilator was removed.
Another case decades later, and just a few years ago (in 2007), was the case of Terry Schiavo. She was not even unconscious and the whole world watched as some judge in Florida ordered her put to death by starvation. This order came despite the fact that her parents requested to remove her from the hospital and care for her at home. There were many protesting the decision of the judge by picketing outside the hospital where the murder occurred.
Quite frankly the HCWs and the hospital should have told the judge to get lost and should have refused to carry out his order of execution. Yes, this would have been very difficult to do, but the alternative (which is what did happen) was taking part in the murder of someone who could not defend herself.
And perhaps many of us should have stepped in and taken over the hospital with the intent of rescuing — and preventing the murder of — the intended victim. Such an action with the right intention is not a sin, it is part of Catholic teaching to protect at all costs those who are defenseless and unable to protect themselves, even if it means giving up our lives to do so.
The whole world watched in horror as the so-called ‘civilized’ nation — “the great USA” — starved someone to death. That is, someone who was obviously not unconscious (this does not mean it is okay to do it when they are unconscious, it is not). I cannot imagine how that poor woman suffered, not to mention her parents who had to watch such an abominable crime committed against their daughter.
A person designated as a Health Care Proxy (HCP) will likely have to endure pressure from other family members and friends whose mindset is not the same as his and that of the sick family member. This will likely be very vocal pressure and can, unfortunately, lead to arguments and various forms of harassment, perhaps even verbal threats.
It is important that the person chosen as a HCP be very strong in the Catholic Faith, know what the Catholic teaching is on such matters, and be someone who will stand firm by God’s grace in making decisions for you. It also should be someone who prays often and will stay by your bedside as often as possible, praying for you and with you — even if you can’t respond or react in any way — so you can hear. Our hearing is the last sense to leave us.
Remember your HCP is your voice box. Let him know that you want him or her to pray the Rosary at your bedside as much as possible (and find others who will help out by doing so when he is not there), you want him to frequently sprinkle Holy Water all around you and your bed, and to make sure that under no circumstances does anyone take off your Brown Scapular.
The Brown Scapular can be a big obstacle the proxy has to overcome. Even if a person makes it clear on admission to a hospital that he does not want his Brown Scapular removed under any circumstance, or if another family member or HCP made this clear to health care staff, it is still very likely that attempts will be made to remove that Scapular. Of course the reasons given will usually seem logical, but they are unnecessary. One can insist that a sign be hung on the wall by the head of the bed as well as in the patient’s chart advising that the Brown Scapular is not to be removed under any circumstance.
There is never any reason why a Brown Scapular has to be removed. Not even in the operating room — I worked as an operating room nurse for a number of years. I repeat, there is no reason. At the end of this article I will present some of the reasons Health Care Workers will tell a person that a scapular has to be removed, and the responses to give to help alleviate the concerns of HCWs. The devil will try all sorts of tricks to get his human helpers to remove a Brown Scapular.
If when you enter a hospital you have never filled out a Health Care Proxy (HCP) form, the hospital will provide them for you. It is suggested that you not wait until that point, especially since you may arrive at the hospital already unconscious and then it is too late. It is best to fill out a form while you are well and still able.
HCP forms are generic and they need to be adjusted. But you can make adjustments to suit your needs. You can also seek the advice of a pro-life Catholic lawyer who may design a form for you.
Here are some things that you may want to add to your Health Care Proxy (HCP) form:
1. Under no circumstances is hydration and nutrition to be stopped, removed or suspended — ever. Fluids and nutrition, either by mouth or intravenous and/or feeding tube, should be provided. Providing nutrition is not an extraordinary means of care. It is a basic necessity of human life. “Food and hydration are never considered medicine… To remove them means euthanasia, it means killing….”, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan (speaking on the Terry Schiavo case) (CNA 7/26/05).
2. It helps to spell out on the form everything you can think of that you want, in case something happens to your HCP or in case your HCP is persuaded into doing things that would go against your wishes.
3. Make it known that you do not wish to be kept under heavy sedation, but rather that you want only what is necessary to assist with pain control without making you sleepy. This, of course, is so you can pray and prepare for your audience with Our Lord — i.e. when He calls you home and you have to render an accounting.
4. You may want to write on the form that no Court of Law or judge, or spouse, or family member can interfere with your wishes or assign any other family member or person as your Health Care Proxy (HCP). Be aware that this may backfire on you if your own HCP does not execute your wishes. But the reason I suggest adding something like this on your form is because it was reported in the Buffalo News (in Buffalo, New York) a case where an interfering judge removed the person who was the HCP.
The patient, or in this case the murder victim, was a young police officer who had been diagnosed with a possible terminal illness. After he was diagnosed, he filled out a HCP form and made his brother his HCP. Mind you, the young man was married, but he did not choose his wife to be his proxy — he chose his brother. The young police officer had surgery and, unfortunately, went into a coma after the surgery and did not regain consciousness. Machinery was being utilized to assist him in staying alive. I do not recall whether the fatal declaration of “brain death” had been made (for more on the modern fabrication known as “brain death”, see “Vital Organ Transplantation and “Brain Death”: A Re-Examination of the Basic Issues” by Dr. Paul A. Byrne).
After some time in a coma the wife wanted her husband removed from life support and the brother, fulfilling his duty as HCP, would not allow it.
Unfortunately, the wife took it to court and the judge on the case removed the brother as HCP and allowed the wife to be made the proxy. Of course that was the death sentence. The patient was murdered, but the judge and wife in the case might say their hands are clean because they did not directly pull the plug — it was those misguided Health Care Workers (HCWs) who did the dirty work.
The hospital staff caring for that young man were obligated to tell the judge he overstepped his jurisdiction and ignore his dictate. And they could and should have done that with or without a signed Health Care Proxy (HCP) form. But the fact that they did have a signed HCP form and disregarded it, only makes it worse and demonstrates, once again, the diabolical disorientation. In doing the dirty work of the judge, it seems as if the HCWs felt their duty was to obey the judge, but it wasn’t.
Somehow the doctors and any others involved in that case (and even the upper management of the hospital) must have forgotten that their duty is to care for the patient and protect the patient from harm. The duty of the hospital staff was to follow the dictates of the patient and not some judge who thinks he can override someone’s wishes as soon as they are unable to look after themselves.
Of course it is the judicial system that has enforced the “legalizing” of murder in the U.S. It is the “judges” on the Supreme Court who initiated the process 35 years ago with Roe Vs Wade, thereby giving death sentences to the weakest of all — the unborn. Once such a heinous process is initiated, it continues to spread, and judges in the lower courts are now issuing such edicts affecting the weak members of society.
Truly if the Health Care Workers (HCWs) in America (and other countries) would refuse to execute the command to murder and instead fulfill the duty to care for and help, then commands to kill given by the judges (and/or government officials) in the U.S. (and elsewhere) won’t matter.
The aforementioned are just a few guidelines regarding Health Care Proxy (HCP) forms. There are drawbacks, as pointed out, and there are likely other drawbacks; but under the current set of circumstances, it seems better to have a Health Care Proxy (HCP) chosen and a form completed, than to not have one. Pray and ask for guidance in choosing the right person to make decisions for you. At least you will have made an attempt to protect yourself. The form is supposed to be a good thing, and indeed it would be, if judges and other assorted misguided persons would stop overstepping their boundaries and interfering with God’s laws.
I do encourage you to speak with a pro-life Catholic lawyer; they are out there. For one near you, you may want to contact the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center at (312) 782-1680 or log onto their website at www.thomasmoresociety.org.
Be aware that there are times when the doctor asks the Proxy or family members (who are not the Proxy) to make decisions for a patient even if the patient is perfectly capable of making his own decisions. This is wrong and should not be allowed. Here are a few reasons why that may happen:
It is very common with the elderly, especially if the patient is hearing-impaired. The inability to hear is often wrongly interpreted as not able to make decisions. The HCW has the duty to establish whether or not a person is able to make his own decisions. But often if a patient keeps asking the HCW to repeat what he is saying, the HCW will turn to a family member who may be present. Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common.
Some HCWs automatically turn to a younger person regarding the health care of a patient who is over a certain age, without even trying to establish if the patient is capable of making his own decisions. They don’t even try to speak with the patient about his treatment; they just turn to a younger family member and assume that either the patient would prefer someone else to make decisions for him or is unable to make his own decisions. Fortunately, this second scenario is less common (or at least it used to be).
Those seeking health care, who are over the age of 60, need to make sure they speak up and ask questions and let the HCWs know who is in charge.
Another reason a doctor may turn to a HCP or a family member to make decisions for someone perfectly capable of making their own decisions, is if the doctor does not like or disagrees with the decision made by his patient. The doctor may turn to the HCP to coerce the patient, or the doctor may even, if allowed, follow the directions of family members who will allow him to do as he wishes even if they are not the wishes expressed to the HCP of the patient (this is why it is important to have a HCP).
Here are some scenarios that may occur:
– attempt to remove the scapular while bathing the patient — “so it doesn’t get wet” and “don’t want the patient to wear a wet scapular”.
Answer: Getting it wet won’t ruin the scapular. We know that a wet scapular is not going to cause a problem for the patient; but a determined HCW will be persistent, so just make sure there is a spare Brown Scapular — i.e. a dry one that can be put on right after the person is bathed, and then hang the wet one to dry, and it will be ready to be worn after the next bath.
– attempt to remove the scapular for certain types of x-rays, scans, etc.
Answer: It is only metal that interferes with these things. Make sure that you have available a Brown Scapular that does not have any medals on the strings of the scapular or the scapular itself.
– attempt to remove the scapular for surgery: “It must be removed — it can cause an infection — it’s not sterile”.
Answer: This will depend on what part of the body is being operated on. The front piece of the scapular can be taped high on the chest or even on the front of the neck and the back piece can be taped on the upper back or the back of the neck.
If the surgery is being scheduled in advance, you can give the surgeon a brand new scapular — still in the package — and tell him you will be wearing the scapular during surgery, and he can either send the scapular for sterilization ahead of time and/or the scapular can be washed with the same cleansing solution and coated with the same sterilizing solution (Betadine or whatever they are using) that the rest of the skin (in the affected and surrounding area of surgery) is covered with in preparation for surgery.
Even with open heart surgery the above can be done (i.e. sterilize ahead of time and use the sterilizing solution in what is called ‘prepping the patient’) and then tape the front and back piece to the front and back of the neck, respectively.
I can tell you it will not be easy to stand your ground. You just have to keep asking yourself which way do you want to be clothed when you have to stand before Our Lord — with or without the garment of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He will be much more inclined to mercy if you are wearing Her garment, than if you are not. We know this for a fact — don’t forget Our Lady’s Scapular promise — “Whosoever dies clothed in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire”.
One last thing — when choosing a person to be your HCP it would be good to remind the person you select of the following, and likewise ask him to remind you of the following periodically, as the need arises:
Assuming we want to be kept alive until God reserves His right to call us from this life, then, of course, it can mean that the end of our life involves a certain amount of suffering. Catholic teaching is that God allows the suffering for the sake of our souls, either as a means of bringing us to the point of repentance so we can be saved for eternity — as a means of spending less time suffering in Purgatory (which we are advised is a very good reason to offer up and endure as much suffering as God will allow here, before we leave this life) — and/or as a means of obtaining a greater crown of glory in Heaven. And one more very important reason — to help save the souls of others by offering up the sacrifices of our sufferings as Our Lady of Fatima asked, thereby reminding us of what the Church has always taught.