A sex offender doesn't want to suffer

My newest patient, inmate #1003whatever, is a late 40’s-ish guy in prison as a sex offender. One of the prison counselors described him as “one of the worst” she’s ever seen. I have no idea what it is he has or has not done. I could find out, but I see no point other than my own curiosity at the moment.

He’s not in good shape. Years of abusing his own body resulted in a bad heart, and a bad liver. Two days after he entered prison, he had a heart attack. That’s when it was also discovered he has cancer all over. Unknown primary. Liver and heart and lungs failing, he’s in serious and worsening pain. So he’s sent to the prison infirmiry.

He seems pretty accepting about his fate. He knows he’s going to die soon. He doesn’t want any therapy to prolong his life. He does not want to be rescusitated. But he does not want to suffer. I am in charge of giving him medications and other treatments to minimize his pain.

A very few of the (non-medical) staff have surreptitously said that justice would be served if he died mad and screaming. While thoughts not unsimilar to that have crossed my mind concerning anyone who harmed my family or friends, I do not want to go there. I know all too well from past experience that I am capable of becoming less than I want to be when I hate.

So I arrange for him to get oxygen, a bed that lets him rest without choking on his own secretions, and very potent pain medications, which will beat back his agonies and reduce his suffering as much as can be. He’ll have nutritious meals brought to him, and he will be assisted in doing the things he can’t do for himself. He’ll be kept warm and safe. He’ll still be in prison until he’s dead.

A large segment of the public would express outrage that all this is being done for him. I’ve been told I’m a bleeding-heart just for doing what I see is my duty for him. Some want him locked in a cell, with bread and water pushed in on him once a day, the door to the cell not to be opened until his corpse needs to be removed. And these people telling me this are mostly devout, church-going types who consider themselves “good christians”. I am not considered such by them as I am a Unitarian who attends services there irregularly. I don’t argue much, I only tell them “that’s not the way I see it.”

I know I’m doing the correct thing. I am becoming more selective in who I tell what my job entails, however.

You already know you are doing your duty Qadgop the Mercotan and you know that doing your duty is right. I’m a student nurse and have just been studying ethics (exam next week) and its rammed in to your head that your duty is to the patient and his suffering. However, everyone is human and I don’t know if I would be able to resist the urge to treat him in the manner people think he deserves, I would just like to think I have the strength of charactar to do what my occupation tells me is right.

He has broken the law, been caught, convicted and sent to prison. That’s the proper way for society to deal with this sort of person.

You are certainly doing the right thing in attending to his medical needs without imposing any additional agenda. It’s easy to see how quickly society would break down under a different approach.

His fate has overtaken him. So be it.

Well QTM, I try to be a good Christian and, from my point of view, you are absolutely doing the right thing. He’s already doing his time, I wouldn’t wish his pain on anybody, not even someone who’s an offender like him. And maybe in this extra time he has, the mercy and care you are giving him will be an example that brings him to God(Who works in mysterious ways I am told). Those hypocrites who are making the ugly suggestions might be interested in a funny poem I once read:

Last night I dreamed death came for me
And Heaven’s gate swung wide.
With kindly grace an angel came,
and ushered me inside.
And there to my astonishment stood folks I’d known on Earth.
Some I’d judged and labeled as “infit and little worth”.
Indignant words sprang to my lips
But never were set free.
For every face showed stunned suprise.
No one expected me!

Qadgop, you may want to point out to these “good christians” that Jesus gave us very specific instructions on this very point, in Matthew 25: 31-46:

Qadgop, you ARE doing the right thing, this from somebody who tries very hard to be a “good Christian.”

If everybody got what they deserved for the bad things they’d done, not a one of us would be left standing.

Plus, were you to let him suffer, it would affect YOU adversely, too. Maybe kill a part of your humanity or put a dark spot on your soul, I dunno.

You are a good and compassionate person. hug

First, do no harm.

What part did I get wrong?

I do not believe that it is MY place to judge this man, or ANY man. God will do that in His own time. I do not believe that it is anyone else’s job to judge this man, either. Well, obviously it was the court system’s job, and they did it, and now he is incarcerated. And now he is ill. So…I would think that withholding proper medical attention would constitute “cruel and unusual punishment?”

I wonder what part of “Judge not that ye be not judged” these people you speak of fail to understand? As a christian, I often wonder how fellow christians reconcile that verse with their prejudices and actions.

In any case, it isn’t really an issue, WHAT he did. You have obviously worked all this out in your mind and heart and come to the correct conclusion. You are a Doctor. You became a Doctor because you wanted to help and heal people. Arguably, he gave up his humanity when he chose to do whatever he did. BUT he is still a human being. And you are committed to healing and helping human beings.

I bless you for the love and caring you bring to your job…

His sentence is being served. Your job is being done.

These two things are not related. His sentence did not include terminal illness. Your job does not include causing or prolonging suffering.

Do your job, to the best of your ability, as I have no doubt you are doing, and you may wish to point out to those who judge you and your actions that talk is cheap, and abstract ethics are the easiest kind to discuss.

I said it when you first announced your decision, and I stick by it. You’re a frimpin’ hero.

In your shoes, I don’t know if I could resist the temptation to hurt him, just a little. But I know that you have the Oath to abide by.

FWIW, I feel you are doing the right thing. And those that come at it from the religous viewpoint at work… you may want to mention that whole “church and state” deal.

Thanks all, but I’m no hero. I’m paid well to do my duty. The volunteers who come in to give comfort and guidance to these inmates have my admiration.

That includes a Wiccan chaplain in our system. Some of the other chaplains and politicians in the state are trying to get her fired. Her warden thinks she’s great, tho.

But that’s a whole 'nother thread.

Your patientsare so lucky to have you Qadgop. I hope that at least some of them appreciate your compassion and dedication.

As are we all. What I wouldn’t give to be able to tattoo this on the inside of everybody’s eyelids where they could never forget it. Profound kudos to you, sir. The world needs people like you.

Well, I’m neither a “good Christian” nor a “bad Christian” but I think you are doing a good thing Qadgop. And a hearty F-you to the “good Christians” who think otherwise.

IIRC from previous threads, you are a doctor whose patients are inmates in prison. So whom do these “good Christians” think your patients are, debutants and eagle scouts? Maybe they expect you to look up what each of your patients was convicted for and alter your treatment accordingly. Losers.

Doctors aren’t supposed to make moral judgments, they treat sick people. Keep up the good work Qadgop & don’t let the “good Christians” bother you.

One of his bro’s was a sex offender???

I find it a tad ironic that this guy is getting better care than I would be able to afford if I were stricken so.

First off, since I’m a programmer, not a doctor, I’ve got to ask about the logic. Given the medical conditions described, wouldn’t it be difficult to impossible for him to “die mad and screaming?” I mean, as I understand it, sooner or later, the body gets exhausted and unconsciousness sets in, right? Spending his last conscious moments that way sounds more feasible.

Second, Qadgop, have I ever told you how much I respect you? Fine, the fellow may be a blight on the face of humanity and a candidate for the largest waste of DNA and oxygen ever, but you refuse to sink to his level. You have chosen to stand by your oaths and bonds. It’s easy for the self-proclaimed righteous to wash their hands and walk away. You’ve chosen to do the right thing, even if it’s not easy or unpopular.

spooje, I’m inclined to agree with you, but that’s between us and the (nicely insured) politicians. I’ve hit them with it before, and I’ll do so again.


spooje, one of life’s great ironies is that the only class of citizen who is guaranteed access to health care with 99+% of it paid for by the government is an inmate.

cjh, unfortunately, a lot of times people are sensate up to the moment of death, especially if pain is untreated.

And again, as for all the kudos, thanks but I fail to live up to my own expectations far too often for me to be willing to accept them. You guys and gals mostly just learn about what I want to tell you. I’m just this guy. But I’m better than I used to be.

Funny, I thought my husband was in the military, not prison :slight_smile:

BTW, as a current EMT and a soon to be RN, I think your conduct is exemplary.

Sorry, Luc, should have said “civilian” instead of “citizen”.

Qadgop, again, I can only say I’m full of admiration.