William S.E. “Doc” Coleman was a dynamic fixture. I did not know him particularly well, and leave the romantic remembrances of his long and illustrious life to others to mark and celebrate.
But I did know him a little. He did his best to direct me in my middling efforts as an actor at Drake University in the mid-1990s. His laugh and his knowing looks are easily remembered. But what strikes me most about his passing on July 8th is how different it was than it might have been even 10 or 15 years ago.
I have watched from a distance since Aurelia was born. My friend Megan’s third daughter demonstrated developmental delays from early on, and no one was sure why. Appointment after appointment, and yet Megan and her husband, Keith, were given no diagnosis. The good parents that they are, they simply loved and cared for their youngest child.
The method that caught my eye immediately was “rectal feeding."
I’d never heard this term before, but I thought I could guess what it involved. In one instance it involved pureeing hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins that were then rectally infused into a detainee. Just one of many techniques, this procedure makes clear the role that professional medical practitioners played in enabling this sexual assault of persons suspected of terrorist activity.
Brittany Maynard recently announced her decision to end her life. By all accounts she’s an articulate bright young woman who is afflicted with an aggressive brain tumor. Her prognosis includes prolonged suffering and a loss of control. In part because of how vocal she’s been and in part because she is young and looks so vibrant, she has brought national attention back to the question of physician assisted suicide (PAS).