Death with Dignity
I feel I need to make a personal comment about an incident that has just transpired. One of my closest friends husband (David) has had Parkinson’s for some 20 years. He was taking massive doses of meds but was getting worse and worse. He often suggested he wanted to end it (they have 2 big ponds and he mentioned jumping into one or even wandering the street). Now the disease has started to affect his mind. She sometimes needed time off and a couple of us would take turns being with him while she went away for several days. She had worked out a way to reduce the rent to a tenant in exchange for daytime care. Last Tuesday she told me he had gotten up in the middle of the night (he does this a lot). He was making some of his usual noises but eventually came into the room and turned on the lights. His face was covered in blood. He had fallen and had a small cut on his cheek so it was not serious. What no one knew he had ruptured his bowel. He said he wasn’t feeling well and slept for 2 days. Thursday evening he woke with pain and swelling and was heli-ported to a hospital in a large city to the north, Bellingham. She took a ferry and when she arrived the hospital had performed surgery and induced a coma. He has a DNR and she enlisted a lawyer to get the hospital (St. Joseph – a Catholic hospital) to remove the coma inducing meds and a breathing tube. He has been on morphine for pain and the mother and their 2 daughters have been with him. She said he was slowly going. She announced that last night he died (peacefully). Today would have been his 71st birthday).
She has been having a nightmare life dealing with this issue. One prognosis was a nursing home which would have decimated their funds. After the surgery a nurse told her he could have been mended but would have to have a colostomy bag. This would have put an impossible burden on both of them. Again, medical facilities and doctors don’t seem to care about extending suffering. They see preserving life, no matter the cost, as paramount. This needs to change for all our sake. She said she has 100 feelings but I think relief is the biggest one. She can now go on with a life that has been increasingly been put on hold for a long time.
The emergence the Death with Dignity program brought on by my late partner has really made this incident one that we and she have seen in the proper light. Sometimes there are good gifts that keep on giving.
I don't have a single photo. She is the founder of the Patos Lighthouse keepers group and is the one in the middle (blue outfit next to the guy - ranger in od jacket).