Re-Evaluating End-of-Life Rights: How an Academic Expert Sees the Issue Since Her Husband's Tragic Accident

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

nurse, home health aide, home care (Getty)

All this week, The Takeaway is talking to some of the 66 million caregivers in America who work day and night to care for someone they love, a process that can sometimes be overwhelming.

But for Peggy Battin, overwhelming doesn't begin to describe the change her life took two years ago when her husband Brooke Hopkins was struck by cyclist, thrown from his bike onto his head, and nearly died. That was back in November 2008—today Brooke is a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.

For Peggy, the experience hasn't just forever altered her role as a caregiver, but also as an academic and a thought leader.

Peggy Battin is a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Utah, and she has spent the greater part of her life advocating for patients' rights to end their lives. But when that was a request her husband made following his accident, it caused Peggy to re-evaluate how she views end of life issues and how the pieces of machinery that help to keep her husband alive can just as easily be turned off.

Update 08/22/2013

On Saturday July 27, 2013, Brooke Hopkins decided to end his own life. A full report can be seen here.

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Margaret Battin

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Megan Quellhorst


T.J. Raphael

Comments [7]

richard from Manhattan

I care for a mother with dementia. The hardest and most rewarding experience of my life. Little or no family help, working full time-quickly realized that this is something I couldn't do without assistance. I now have her with 24/7 care at her home with outstanding caring people-it gave me a life and helped me be more present for her than merely caring for her. I guess the bottom line for me was realizing that no one can do it alone. Seek every assistance you can to help yourself

Jul. 24 2013 08:59 AM

What happens when being a caregiver endangers your life?
That's what happens when you support someone with a specific form of mental illness.
There are many Adam Lansas in our society who leave a trail of devastation even though they don't do things exactly like him.
The caregiver for such mentally I'll have no protection especially if its a man trying to support a female spouse.
In most cases the couple splits the kids grow up in a very broken family with a destroyed childhood.
The male caregiver who withstands the odds against him to protect the child seldom finds support from the system.
Very rarely could they protect the child and even more rarely protect both the child and her mother.
This is about caregivers so I won't hijack this to a mental health situation - just would say I was a caregiver for 12 years to my schizo affective disorder (SAD) inflicted spouse of 18 years. It's a hell of a job to protect myself, my child AND my spouse from the consequences of my spouse's delusion based actions.

Jul. 23 2013 09:46 PM
Ginny Breeland from california

My husband are I are caregivers to our son, 27 stricken with schizophrenia at 18. This is a horrible debilatating illness that has stolen his young life full of potential. However we are dealing with our new normal and our son has revealed to us capacities we never knew we had. Last year, his older sister was in a catastrophic accident where she lost her right arm. Transition is profound. The manner of support we all manifested was incredible. You never know what you have until you are asked to evolve with uncertainty. Our daughter and son are our heroes and to see their ability to move forward as positively as they can is astounding. The caretaking is exhausting but we are all committed to making each day positive and finding joy in many places. We would support all parents who have had to witness their children undergo the severity of circumstance. The sun rises each day and each day we are filled with hope.

Jul. 23 2013 07:38 PM
PRuse from SF Bay Area

My brother-in-law , who lives in another state from me, is the primary caregiver for my sister who has a rare, family genetic disorder. He takes care of her night and day and we marvel every day at his ability to do so. He is exhausted and I think he may finally see that he needs help. I can see that it is very isolating for them both. We are looking into ways to get them help. In the meantime, he is a family hero!

Jul. 23 2013 07:26 PM

A section that does not seem to be included as caregivers, the older parents (I am in my 80's)who are caring for adult children who have become physically disabled (20 years ago while in his 30's). 24/7 he is under my care.

Jul. 23 2013 06:40 PM
regina st. lifer from New Jersey

I have been married for 26 years to my husband James... diagnosed with multiple myeloma 6 years ago. Mother of four grown children 19 to 25... I do not consider myself a "caregiver" . Too sterile...too medical a term. I am the same woman my husband James married 26 years ago. We care for each other. Life is a journey filled with great happiness and great sorrow. Four children, our heros allow us to enter every new day with gratitude.

Jul. 23 2013 03:32 PM
Cary Heller from Detroit

I work 50 plus hours a week as VP of Sales for my company.
For the last 3 years I have cared for a 15 year old boy who is highly autistic and has CP.
I met him through an amazing organization called The Friendship Circle.
When I first met Jordy he was in a wheel chair.
I pick Jordy up every Wednesday and Friday evening after work and take him out- take him to a restaurant and usually to a park.
I pick Jordy up every Saturday morning and he is with me all day until about 6 pm.
I take him everywhere I go and we work on his social skills.
I am never late, I have never cancelled.
Today I don't push Jordy around in a stroller or wheel chair.
We run together, play soccer together... all in his own way.

For someone who does not speak with words- in the time that I spend caring for Jordy he says more to me in more ways than anyone else ever has.
Probably more than anyone else ever will.

Sometimes when we give of ourselves we find a funny thing-
We are really the ones receiving.

Jul. 23 2013 10:15 AM

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