Regrets, I’ve had a few
Personal Stories | April 15, 2022 | Rita Scagnetti
In recognition of Advance Care Planning Day, Bina Feldman shared her story with Rita Scagnetti, DWDC’s GTA Chapter Communications and Outreach Director. Based on her experience, Bina wants to encourage others speak openly about their end-of-life wishes, and record them, before it’s too late.
GTA Chapter volunteer Bina Feldman has been a widow for nearly five years. She still regrets that when her husband, Bob Bercovici, was in palliative care, she didn’t broach the subject of how he wanted to die.
“I sensed he wanted to live as long as possible, so I struggled with raising the topic of how he wanted to die. I didn’t want to impose my need to talk about his death on his need to avoid talking about it. Or did he just need an opening to discuss the most difficult subject in all of life?”
Bina recalls that none of Bob’s doctors talked directly about end of life. Bob’s family doctor spoke to Bina privately about his impending death.
“He told me to get all Bob’s affairs in order and to take everything out of his name. This was the doctor who had a relationship with my husband for so many years, yet he only talked about death in veiled terms,” she said.
The nephrologist who cared for Bob often spoke about death, so much so that Bina and Bob jokingly called her Dr. Death.
“But she asked about his bucket list and the things he wanted to do before he died. She never talked about medically assisted dying. She said he could stop dialysis at any time and that he would die painlessly in a few days.”
Bina said she wishes the doctor had discussed MAID directly, so Bob would have had information about his choices. She thinks that might have helped both of them have an open honest discussion.
“I think it’s a real disservice to people who are facing certain death not to hear all their options.”
Bina remembers clearly the distress of her husband’s last hours. He had fallen and firefighters were called to help. Recognizing that he was in acute pain, they received permission to administer an increased dose of morphine. Bob was struggling and whimpering as his son helped two large firefighters hold him down. Bina left the room crying.
When the doctor came to put him on a morphine drip, Bina asked “what happens now?” the doctor told her, “this is it.”
“Even though he was in palliative care, I had not understood that this fall sparked ‘The End’. I wasn’t ready,” Bina said. “There were still things I wanted to say and do. I wish it had been different for my husband, my children and me. This was not a dignified death.”
Bina is one of the GTA Chapter’s principal presenters on MAID. Aside from her commitment and belief in medically assisted dying, she wants others to have the information she didn’t have when she needed it most. She wants others to have the courage to talk openly about how they want to die. She has spoken to her children about her wishes, so they won’t find themselves in a similar position.