The anguish of prolonged health decline

Personal Stories | August 4, 2023 | Ingrid Ruhrmann

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A photo of Edelweiss flowers on a grassy hill

After attending a DWDC webinar, Ingrid reached out to share how much it had helped in the healing process of her mother’s long health decline, and death. “The pain of my mother’s death was sharp and deep. Her decline of health over many years has left a wound which still festers. Your webinar helped me process some of the remaining emotions and motivated me to share our story – all information is to be shared if helpful to another.” 

The image is of Edelweiss flowers which remind Ingrid of her mother who was born in Austria and raised in Bohemia. 

This is my mother’s journey as best I can remember it from somewhere in her 50’s to her death at age 79. 

My mother started to lose her ability to walk sometime in her 50’s and she was taken to McMaster University in Hamilton for surgery. A piece of her hip bone was placed in her cervical vertebra to regain the sensation in her feet. This was not successful. 

Eventually she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and because of her diagnosis, she was invited to be interviewed by students at McMaster. These students were on their way to becoming medical doctors. 

Not surprisingly, the students nicknamed my mother Dr. Ruhrmann because she was an articulate woman who spoke five languages and had a keen sense of her physical being. 

My father died an early death when my mother was 60 and on her way to using a walker and eventually a wheelchair.   

I discovered a doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who had started a clinic for MS patients. I was able to get her into the clinic but after her assessment, it was determined that she was could not return to her house because of her disability. 

I found a place in a nursing home which appealed to me, and she was transferred there shortly before her 64th birthday. This is where she attempted suicide. The attempt failed. My mother knew what was ahead of her! 15 years of not being able to turn in bed and the last five years not being able to feed herself.   

I don’t wish the ‘horror’ of those years on anyone; had she been able to access MAID, she would have taken the opportunity AND I would have supported her. 

I would rather recall her death than all the years she suffered. 

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