Don’s journey: What I’ve learned about assisted dying so far

Personal Stories | March 9, 2018 | Don Kent

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In January, Ottawa’s Don Kent was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Suddenly faced with his own mortality at 56 years old, Don plans to pursue medical assistance in dying. In this very special blog series, he invites Dying With Dignity Canada supporters to follow along with him on his journey with cancer and his quest for a peaceful death.

This is part three of Don’s Journey.

Feb. 3, 2018

I just learned that my day nurse works with the medical assistance in dying (MAID) team here at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) so I picked her brain a little to learn more about the process.

She told me the entire process usually takes at least 10 days as there is a 10-day waiting period written into the law to ensure that the MAID request is legitimate and not just a spur of the moment anxiety. This can be expedited if the person’s death is imminent or if they are at risk of losing capacity. The patient will meet with several staff including, in my case, a speech language pathologist and will be assessed by two doctors to ensure that the patient meets the eligibility criteria. Once this is done, the patient can choose a date or delay the day of death indefinitely.

The hospital has a clinic they use for the event. My nurse indicated that the death is very peaceful and pain free. Family can be present and music can be playing. I’d like the Deep Purple song “Child in Time” to play while I pass. Crank it up, please! I attended my brother’s death a little more than a year ago, and his son and daughter had his favourite song streaming (“Smoke on the Water,” also by Deep Purple) while his life slipped away. It was very emotional. It seems that we Kent boys are not destined to survive past our 57th year — sorry, mom.

The palliative care team at TOH has discharged me from their care and has turned my palliative care over to my general practitioner (GP) to coordinate with community resources. That must be a new record for getting bounced by palliative care — only three days! I’m guessing that they were not impressed with my choice of pursuing MAID. My GP is another very compassionate doctor who was instrumental in caring for me during my initial cancer diagnosis back in 2007. There was about a six-week lag following diagnosis before the cancer centre took over my treatment. There was a lot of anxiety during those six weeks of uncertainty which my GP managed admirably. I will make an appointment with her shortly after my discharge from the hospital.

Dying With Dignity Canada is beyond grateful to Don Kent for inviting us to join him on his journey. We are honoured to help Don share his invaluable insights with all Canadians interested in learning more about the assisted dying process and how they, too, can take control of their dying process.

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