If this is my permanent state - do I want to exist?
We recently held our first ever speaker/ambassador training session in Vancouver. These continue to be one of my favourite events as I have an opportunity to work closely with a small gorup of members who are keenly committed to our work.
As part of the training session, each participant has an opportunity to share a story with the group about why they support Dying With Dignity. Here is a story from one of the most recent attendees:
I have been interested in the concept of "Dying With Dignity" and have followed events related to assisted dying for many years, but always with a philosophical, somewhat remote attitude. I still had not come to terms with the reality that such events could happen to me, or someone close to me, that is, not until May of last year. Then, alarming things began to occur, and escalated in a manner I could not have imagined.
In late May of 2010, my former and ailing husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was cared for at home by a palliative team, and after a few hellish weeks, died in early July. Three days later I, usually glowing with health, suffered a freak accident at a fitness class and was hospitalized with fractures of the right elbow and pelvis.
There I remained for five dreadful weeks, during which time I experienced a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. While still in so-called "rehab" hospital, I and my doctors noticed that my right hand was not working properly; the fingers were curling inwards in a claw-like fashion and the hand was weak and uncoordinated.
Following my release from hospital, I waited many weeks for further diagnostic tests. An electromyelogram, or EMG Test, which measures muscle and nerve function, indicated extensive damage to the ulnar nerve at the elbow resulting from my original injury; this could be alleviated, possibly, by a further surgical procedure to the elbow. While awaiting the surgery I fell in my own kitchen one day and fractured the wrist of my good arm.
I remember lying in bed that night in a state of utter panic and desolation, wondering how I would manage with one arm encased in a cast, and the other one virtually useless. If this was to be my permanent state, did I really want to exist in it?
My thoughts were made all the more poignant by the memories of my days as a musician which came flooding into my mind; for nearly fifty years I had earned my living as a harpist, able to navigate the most intricate and complex scores with these same fingers which now could barely pick up a spoon to feed myself.
Many weeks later, my left wrist fracture having healed enough for the cast to be removed, the surgery was completed on my right elbow, followed by four weeks of encasement in a rigid cast. The removal of the second cast, in mid-February, has been succeeded by three months of intensive hand and arm therapy. The surgery has been only partially successful; the long-term prognosis is for limited mobility of my right hand.
It has been a year of such pain and trauma. I am able to appreciate, in a way I never could before, some of the feelings and concerns of a very ill or dying person.
If you are interested in attending a speaker/ambassador training session, please contact our office to be notified of future sessions.
- assisted dying
- assisted suicide
- Carter case
- Dying With Dignity
- euthanasia prevention coalition
- Gloria Taylor
- medically assisted dying
- medically assisted suicide
- Nagui Morcos
- palliative care
- Physician assisted dying
- physician assisted suicide
- Quebec report
- right to die