For those with advanced illness, hunger is rarely, if ever, a source of discomfort. However, a patient will be affected by dehydration long before suffering any ill effects from the lack of nutritional support. The general impression among hospice clinicians is that starvation and dehydration do not contribute to suffering among the dying and might actually contribute to a comfortable passage from life. The medical evidence is quite clear that dehydration in the end stage of a terminal illness is a very natural and compassionate way to die. In fact, physiologically, dehydration in the dying patient can reduce rather than increase pain and other complications, for example, less fluid in the lungs and therefore less pulmonary congestion, makes breathing easier. Published studies of healthy volunteers report that total fasting causes hunger for less than 24 hours. Ketonemia occurs and is associated with relief of hunger and an accompanying mild euphoria.I should save this under "Potentially Useful Knowledge". But everything is.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Fasting to Death
The father of a relative decided to die. He had been a writer in Yiddish and Russian and a most interesting person, but I am so impatient that was unable to maintain a long conversation with him. He was nearing 100, very lucid and suffering from the treatment of his diseases. He fasted for a week or so and then took painkillers to end his life, which he did. Learning about fasting, I found that...