FEEDING TUBE: CRUEL TREATMENT OR LIFELINE?
Dear Ann Landers: You recently printed a letter from ``Phoenix,'' whose mother-in-law lived for eight years on a feeding tube. I wholeheartedly agree with her that tube feeding is cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment. Removing the tube is not a crime. Inserting it is.
In 40 years of practice as a physician, I have never used tube feeding to sustain life. I have always treated my patients as I would like to be treated. If another doctor inserted a feeding tube, I would leave it in until the patient pulled it out, but I have never ordered that a patient's hands be tied to prevent him from pulling the tube out.
Tube feeding is used by doctors who have the mistaken notion that they have failed when a patient dies. They do not wish to accept the fact that death is a normal part of life.
It's too bad ``Phoenix'' did not find a more sensible and compassionate doctor to treat her mother-in-law.
- Fremont, Calif., M.D.
Dear M.D. in Fremont: You are right when you say death is a normal part of life, but is it not a doctor's mission to keep as many people from dying as possible? I find it difficult to accept your statement that the feeding tube is used by doctors who feel they have failed and inserting the tube is a crime. There is a great body of evidence that feeding tubes have saved many lives.
Dear Ann Landers: Today, I saw a boy about 10 years of age Rollerblading and dragging his puppy along on a leash. The poor dog was completely exhausted. He was breathing rapidly, and his tongue was hanging out. The dog tried to sit down and rest, but the boy continued to drag it down the street.
I'm sure the boy thought his dog was having a good time, but the reality is that he was subjecting the animal to inhumane treatment. That puppy couldn't possibly keep up with someone on Rollerblades. The same goes for people who ride bikes and pull their dogs alongside them on a leash.
Please, folks, if you want to exercise your dog, take him for a walk or let him come along when you jog. And be sure to keep a steady pace you can both tolerate. It will do the dog's heart a lot more good, and yours as well.
- Pet Lover in Gothenburg, Neb.
Dear P.L.: The applause you hear is from all the dog lovers in my reading audience. To expect a puppy to keep up with a Rollerblader is totally unrealistic. And please be aware that Rollerblading is a potentially dangerous sport. Those in-line skates are not the same as the old-fashioned roller skates most of us grew up with.