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When doctors force medical treatment. When one overcomes physical handicaps

Nov 15, 2009 When doctors force medical treatment. When one overcomes physical handicaps

In 1995 at the Trial Lawyers College, I met Dax Cowart. He is one of my favorite people from the college.

On the one hand, I prefer to think of Dax for himself, not for any physical handicaps. On the other hand, he has travelled extensively telling the story about being burnt all over his body in 1973, and he has transcended the hellish ordeal of feeling skinned alive during doctors’ forced efforts to treat him when he refused medical treatment and insisted on dying. I share some of his story here.

In 1973, Dax and his father got caught in an explosion when they started their car, without knowing that there was a gas leak present. His father died on the way to the hospital. Dax asked the first-arriving person for a gun to end his suffering. The man said he could not do that. The hospital accepted his mother’s decision to have his injuries treated, even though Dax insisted on the opposite. Dax already was a full-grown adult.

Around a year or two after I first met Dax, I asked how he felt being alive. He confirmed that he wanted to die at the time of the explosion, but there was no reason to do that at present, now that the pain had finally passed.

Dax is a very vocal member of the right to die movement. Well beyond that, he shows how physical handicaps can be transcended tremendously, because our bodies do not define us.

Here is Dax’s lengthy talk from 2002. Here is coverage of Dax in 2000 in Time.

Following is Dax’s quote on memory expert Harry Lorayne’s website: “Dax Cowart, Attorney/ Public Speaker who is blind:

‘As a result of an explosion I became totally blind and lost all ten fingers. I could no longer rely on written notes or even Braille. By using Harry’s memory training techniques I graduated from law school – passed the Texas bar exam. When I was asked to give an inspirational talk with no advance notice, Harry’s techniques got me through that 45-minute talk with flying colors. I use these techniques for all kinds of things – every day. Frankly, I don’t know how I’d manage without them.'”

One day, I asked a fellow Trial Lawyers College attendee if he ever feels that the world’s injustices are too much to cope with. Then he reminded me of the huge physical obstacles that Dax faces.

It would be nice to appreciate every day for itself without needing to be reminded that some people have it much tougher than we do, and that at least some of them transcend those hurdles. Sometimes I need the reminder, nonetheless.

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