2008 RE: Life Is Beautiful at the Hospice
posted by October 13 at 15:37 PMon
Some relevant and moving comments on I-1000 from my post about hospice care.
A friend of mine died in hospice from ovarian cancer that spread through her stomach and intestines. Hospice was great for the first half of her decline, always bustling about in the background while we helped our friend self-medicate with marijuana, etc. However, she was really miserable towards the end. The pain was immense for her and all she and the rest of us wanted was for her to pass on quickly. While the hospice workers were amazing people, we wish death with dignity had been an option along with the other care leading up to it.
my grandmother died of a brain tumor caused by metastasized lung cancer. she was under hospice care. this was in VT. she begged and begged and begged for relief—she wanted to go quickly. they best advice the hospice social worker could come up with? she told my grandmother the only way she could speed up the process was to starve herself to death. i was fucking outraged.
i watched my grandmother go from a human being to a pile of bones and skin—unable to do anything in the end but suffer. she couldn’t walk, then she couldn’t manage her bladder/bowels, then she couldn’t feed herself, then she couldn’t speak, and then she couldn’t do anything but look at you. in the end it didn’t look like she could even seen anything—we were unable to discern if she even knew we were there. two months of agony—for her and for my mother who was her primary caregiver. hospice doesn’t do much—they provide drugs and equipment—and once a week for half an hour a nurse comes in and twice a week an aide comes in to bathe the patient (or something like that—change the catheter). it is basically nothing for someone who needs round the clock full time care. it puts an extraordinary amount of emotional and financial pressure on the family.
i currently have a progressive, degenerative neuromuscular disease. if it comes to the point in my life where i am unable to do anything and i need that kind of care—i would prefer i be allowed to die (way before that point, actually). i will not put my family through what they went through with my grandmother. i wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, ever.
A very amazing and vibrant friend of mine in Michigan was asked—begged—by her long-suffering father to help him end is life. His cancer was excruciating and “pain-management” was no-longer effective beyond keeping him a drugged vegetable on a gurney.
They drove to an abandoned car lot in D.C., and at his request and with his blessing she put a bullet in his head. Fearing homicide charges, she then turned the gun on herself. Unsuccessfully. She was in critical condition for weeks, wracked with guilt and fear, to eventually die from the combination of wounds and terrible heartache.
I breakdown and cry for her every time I think of the horrible position she was put in, between the reality of her beloved father’s agony and the blindness of the state.
Please don’t force more people into tragic choices like this. Allow people to make the choice of their own death, with dignity, with care, on their own terms, in peace.
I-1000 doesn’t prescribe lethal-dose.
It permits lethal-dose.
Allows it, not forces it.
If you don’t want to end your own life with a peaceful lethal dose? Then don’t do it.
But don’t you tell ME what I can and can’t do. Ever. Don’t like what I choose? Then don’t be my friend. My life, my choice. Fuck off.
Please vote YES on I-1000.