A Rousing Game of 'Go Fish' -- I Mean 'Go Wish'

Judie Brown
January 3, 2012
Reproduced with Permission

We now have a new card game to play in 2012 - a frightening game called "Go Wish."

The stated purpose of this game: "The cards help you find words to talk about what is important if you were to be living a life that may be shortened by serious illness. Playing the game with your relatives or best friends can help you learn how you can best comfort your loved ones when they need you most. Go Wish can be played by one, two or more people."

In other words, this is a card game designed to persuade the players that all values regarding end-of-life care are fungible.

The woman who devised Go Wish is Elizabeth Menkin, MD - the physician who founded Coda Alliance (publishers of Go Wish). Menkin is currently a clinical medical director for San Diego Hospice and a leader in the palliative care movement - an activity better described as the third path.

Coda Alliance has a specific mission. Coda's founder Menken writes, "Coda's goal is to promote a culture shift in how our community thinks about end-of-life care, aiming to have the public talk about palliative care and hospice like they talk about financial planning or car insurance."

This type of behavior modification has only one objective - to convince those facing illness that the best course for all involved is revising their values in such a way that hastening death becomes a rational choice.

Coda provides links to experts in palliative care, hospice, and similar services. Obviously I am not suggesting that all palliative care is designed to end life instead of treat pain, or that every hospice is a different path taking one to an early grave. The fact is that every service should be examined on a case by case basis. Remember Terri Schiavo who was starved to death in a hospice. Obviously Schiavo's husband took legal steps to make sure she died, but the facility could have said no to the request. It did not.

More recently, there's the brain surgeon who called in to the Mark Levin show and discussed a recent Department of Health and Human Services meeting he attended. According to the article,

HHS used the term "units" when speaking about patients. Second, he [the caller] provided the example above which demonstrated that the standard "treatment" for a 70-year-old patient who arrives in an emergency room for a brain aneurysm is "comfort care" unless more comprehensive care is authorized by a medical review board. The verbally-engineered HHS proposal makes it much easier to limit or refuse treatment to elderly persons under the guise of "comfort" to "units."

Is there a Go Wish card warning that "unit" means "patient"?

The first national Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm Conference is to be held next month. We note that there is no workshop listed where the abuses of palliative care or denial of treatment to the dying will be exposed. A careful reading of the program would lead one to believe "it's all good" with the folks who are charged with respecting human dignity and human rights at the end of life.

Using a card game to soften unsuspecting folks up for the kill is the latest in a long line of gimmicks in the culture of death's bag of tricks. But lest we get morbid about it, let's remember what one reader remarked upon looking at the Go Wish website,

In all candor, when I first glanced at the "Go Wish" website this morning I thought it was a parody. The two old ladies on the home page look like a scene out of Arsenic and Old Lace! The whole concept of the game is laughable. Seriously? They think they can sell their "values clarification tool" to the public by taking a BORING GAME (Go Fish) - and adding MACABRE subject matter? They think this is going to sell? Only a bunch of pinhead right-to-die bores could come up with this great "marketing concept."

Non-pinheads, beware!