Facing the unavoidable | Jan. 30, commentary
Realistic options for end of life
David Baker's column should be required reading for everyone. Having been a registered nurse for 35 years, I applaud his straightforward, clear and undeniable case for physician-initiated end-of-life discussions with patients.
I have worked in many health care settings and witnessed firsthand people in debilitated conditions undergoing invasive, painful procedures because loved ones felt it was the "right thing to do."
I cared for a 91-year-old, extremely frail, helpless gentleman, post-stroke, unable to swallow or eat, whose wife had a feeding tube placed. The man was in obvious discomfort, and quietly said to me, "I just don't want to do this anymore." His wife was brightly trying to cheer him up, saying, "This will make you stronger so you can come home." This man was not going home. The tube would prolong his life in a nursing home, away from those who loved him. Death is not an elective procedure to be avoided. It is inevitable.
I have read countless wonderful articles on end-of-life journeys written by experts and "average Joes" alike in your newspaper.
Kudos to the Tampa Bay Times for continuing to keep the conversation alive on this difficult subject.
Sharon Scheiblein, Hudson
Facing the unavoidable Jan. 30, commentary
Making decisions early
I was motivated to write you due to the recent death of my 95-year-old mother. I too was put in a position of making decisions regarding the direction of care we would allow the doctors to make. The prime difference was that both my parents discussed with me in their later years what they would deem acceptable treatment.
It was a practical decision we should all make while we are young and of sound body and mind. Both of my parents felt that they would not wish to be "hooked to a ventilator" or have invasive treatments. Over a year ago, I signed the necessary releases to assist my father in avoiding the complicated extension of his life with artificial machines. He died as he wished, with only comfort and care.
This past week my mother was hospitalized and, as expected with the aged, complications arose. She too did not wish to have any invasive procedures. On the last day with my mother she told me, "I'm ready to go and join your father." Once again, the papers had been signed to provide only comfort and care.
With these conversations, and mandated with a living will and health care surrogate documents, I know the correct decision was made.
John Caton, St. Petersburg
Two sides to SeaWorld boycott | Jan. 29
Captivity is the problem
Susan Thurston's column is a rambling attempt to defend the indefensible. She says her "top takeaway from Blackfish (the CNN documentary) is that trainers don't belong in the water with killer whales." Maybe her top "takeaway" should have been that killer whales don't need trainers. Maybe it should have been that killer whales, the largest animals in captivity, whose range in the wild is hundreds of square miles, do not belong in amusement theme park tanks.
She ends by saying, "We should respect their wildness," while apparently still condoning confining these animals to captivity in small cement enclosures. Huh?
Michael Furlong, Treasure Island
Cruelty is simply wrong
Susan Thurston writes about "a mother whale screeching when separated from her baby" and describes capture as "kidnapping a child from its mother," yet defends the theme park for rehabbing some animals.
Well, doing a few good deeds doesn't negate the misery and abuse that's been inflicted on sea mammals in marine parks for decades.
She goes on to justify it by mentioning seal clubbing and elephant killing for ivory. What's the point? That we shouldn't stop cruelty to orcas and dolphins because other atrocities exist?
There's a reason so many former trainers interviewed in Blackfish regretted their past. It's because they've come to realize it was just plain wrong.
Jim Patterson, Tampa
Raise up, don't drag down | Jan. 29, letter
Wages have stagnated
The letter writer argues that what workers "earn" reflects their value as employees. Historically, wages have reflected increases in worker productivity. But since the mid 1970s, despite strong labor productivity growth, wages have remained nearly flat.
For instance, while Caterpillar realized record profits last year ($5.6 billion, equal to an increase of $45,000 per worker), these profits were not equitably shared by Cat workers who received no wage increases. Did the CEO of Caterpillar "earn" his multimillion-dollar salary, or did he confiscate what was due his workers who produced the company's profit?
The stagnation in worker compensation is closely related to the membership decline of American labor unions — in large part due to congressional and state anti-union laws. Most European nations have union membership of at least a third of their labor force; those countries have much less income inequality than the United States.
Robert White, Valrico
Group deciding future of Florida panther Jan. 30
Give the panther a chance
It's not a good sign for our state animal when the group deciding its future consists of five state and federal officials, a major landowner and one environmental activist. By my count that will probably work out to be one vote for the panther and six against. Add to that Larry Williams' statement that he believes "the group will function better outside public view."
The panther is the state animal and is on the brink of extinction. Any deliberations deciding its fate and future habitats should be open to the citizens of Florida. Saying there will be public forums on the committee's plan is meaningless. That translates to letting the public have its say and then just doing what they want anyway. Let the public and press in on the meetings and give the panther a fighting chance.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center