Fandango’s Provocative Question

There are some questions that are rarely asked because the emotions that they stir up can be almost unbearable and because they cannot help but completely divide opinion. That said, these are often the questions that should be asked because they provoke discussion and, however unpalatable these discussions may be they are necessary if the human race is to continue to move forward. For that reason, I’ve decided to try and answer the incredibly provocative question posed by the fearless Fandango.

Do you believe that terminally ill people should be allowed or encouraged to end their lives via physician-assisted suicide? If so, under any circumstances or should there be restrictions? If not, why not?

My first response to this is to ask another question: If your family pet was dying, visibly suffering and the vet had told you there was nothing they could do what would your reaction be? You knew that, if you did not take action, your beloved cat or dog would face the rest of its life in pain and anguish…what would you do? For most of us, although it may break our hearts we would ask the vet to put the animal to sleep, to end its suffering. How is it then that we do not afford the same kindness to our fellow humans?

Almost 5 years ago, I watched my husband die from esophageal cancer which was complicated by secondary cancer in his liver. I watched him suffer when the doctors put cameras down his throat, he was sedated but told me that the process was agony. I was with him on the day that they decided to operate on his esophagus, a major and frightening procedure. They opened him up and then found the secondary cancer so they woke him up from the anesthetic and, while he was still groggy, told him that the operation would not go ahead and that there was nothing more they could do for him. That was his death sentence, it was delivered with little compassion and it broke my husband’s heart because he knew that he would be leaving this World and everyone in it that he loved. Worse than this, he knew that he would die in considerable pain.

I fought to find him a place in a hospice because I couldn’t bear the treatment that he received in hospital. I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to relive the memories but no-one deserves the mental and emotional cruelty that he suffered in the name of ‘treatment’.

Cancer is the most awful disease. It is cruel. It robs people of their dignity, it strips the flesh from their bones and leaves them as shadows of their former selves, in pain, connected to machines, drips, tubes all designed to keep them in their suffering for as long as possible. For what? For who?

A few months before his death I was asked to sign a ‘do not resuscitate order’ and, although I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to the only man I’d ever loved, I didn’t hesitate because watching someone you love slowly taken apart by this terrible disease is far worse than letting them go. What is it they say about if you really love someone you’ll let them go….?

One of the things that I will always feel guilty about is not spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my love before he died. In films or on the TV it’s always like that isn’t it? The relative sleeping in a chair beside their loved one’s bed, holding their hand, not leaving, eating or even changing their clothes but real life isn’t like that or at least it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t or wouldn’t accept that my husband was going to die. Of course, I knew on an intellectual level but I wouldn’t believe it because the thought was too awful to bear. So I visited every single day, for hours at a time, but I also carried on with my life because, in my head, that which I knew to be inevitable could never happen.

This went on for several months, my husband suffered, I suffered, his family and mine suffered, it was prolonged, torturous and unnecessary. If my love had been given the option to end his life with a morphine overdose I believe he would have taken it just to put an end to, what had become, a miserable existence; it could really be called a life any longer. If he had made that choice I like to think that I would have supported him in his decision because it was his to make.

When I spoke to one of the hospice nurses after my love had left this World she said that his death had been ‘difficult’, basically, he had suffered. The really awful part of this was that I was not there with him, he was alone with a nurse, a very caring woman but not someone who loved him; don’t we all deserve to be with someone we love when we die?

If medically assisted suicide was allowed I could have been there, he could have been surrounded by the people that he loved at a time and place of his choosing and not at 2am, in a hospice with a kind nurse the only person there to hold his hand. I know that people will say that the processed could be abused, the lawmakers fear that assisted suicide could become murder or that people who would otherwise go on to recover, especially from mental illness, will take their own life but it is their own life isn’t it? The human race is happy enough to kill, many places still have the death penalty, we start wars over territory or religion, we maim and murder for pleasure or profit and yet we balk at the idea of allowing someone to take their own life. Why?

The grief that I have suffered and still suffer following the death of my beloved husband would be no different had he died as he did or through medically assisted suicide. The pain would not be lessened but the guilt would have been because I could have been there with him.

We put animals to sleep, when they are suffering, in the name of kindness and compassion, it’s through noble intent. We condemn those who hurt animals or treat them badly because animals like cats and dogs can’t really fight back against the mighty human AND YET we allow our fellow humans to go through far worse in the name of ethics. Why?

To finally answer Fandango’s question: I absolutely believe that people should have the right to end their suffering through assisted suicide if they are terminally ill.

Lisa

x

 

  36 comments for “Fandango’s Provocative Question

  1. January 24, 2019 at 10:24 am

    It’s a complicated issue Lisa, and in your case I think I agree with euthanasia, but I’m in no position to pretend about knowing the answer…
    I looked after my wife for 30 years, she suffered from severe MS, and she smiled at me every day, until she went to hospital for the last two weeks of her life…. She was a survivor, and I still have doubts about what she went through over all those years…..
    Seven weeks ago, after 5 weeks of suffering terrible illness, i ended up having a stroke on top of my illness, this happened to be my second stroke, and in an instant of time I didn’t want to go through the long recovering again.
    With support of family, friends and helpful counselling I came through the awful time…
    Basically what I’m trying to say, is that, really I’m confused and i’m not sure how to answer your important question !!

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

      I totally get your confusion Ivor with all that you’ve gone through XX

      Like

  2. Dodge
    January 24, 2019 at 10:27 am

    I recognise that period so well, one day in particular the only time I’ve ever hugged my boss😂
    I agree with your conclusion.

    Dodge
    Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 24, 2019 at 1:12 pm

      I remember it well Dodge and I’m so grateful that you were there to give me that much needed hug. Lots of love xxx

      Like

  3. January 24, 2019 at 10:39 am

    God that was hard to read Lisa. I can’t imagine how hard it was to write.

    100% agree with you. But I wish you had not had that experience my friend. Sending a hug. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      It was a tough one Darren I have to admit but I felt better for having written. Thanks so much for your kind comment and hugs back at you xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. January 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Too close to home for comfort! I watched a programme last night, We Have to Talk about Death and hospices and palliative care look so good, but perhaps reality is not always like that. Don’t feel guilty, no one can be there 24 hours, but it does make you feel euthanasia should be made legal, gone are the days when the family doctor would just pop round and keep giving stronger and stronger doses of morphine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 24, 2019 at 1:16 pm

      Yes I think you’re right, times have changed and we haven’t changed with them 😊 x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. January 24, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    A very brave, honest, and difficult post to write Lisa. Well done you, and I totally agree with you. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. January 24, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. January 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Wow. Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to share such a personal and intimate story. Around 10 years ago, when my father-in-law was in hospice, the last time we saw him, he whispered to his daughter and me, “I broke the code.” We didn’t know what he was talking about, but he knew he was dying and he was suffering. Earlier in the day the nurse asked him to describe his pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and she told him that the higher the number, the larger the amount of morphine she would give him. He was smart enough and aware enough to know what an overdose of morphine would do. Before we left the hospice that evening, he told us goodbye and he said, “Tonight I’m going to be a 10.” We were notified early the next morning that he had passed a few hours earlier.

    Again, thank you for sharing. I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Boo
    January 24, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I, too, watched my beloved waste away from gastric/liver/pancreas/lung/kidney cancer. Yes, it spread EVERYWHERE.

    This once vibrant, wonderful, incredible loving man go from the sexiest thing on 2 legs to skin and bones. Unlike you, I had him at home. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I promised him he would not die in a home or hospital.

    Hospice brought in a hospital bed and he was beside me the whole last 18 hours of his life. Up till that Thursday morning he was walking and talking to me, albeit very weak. By 3pm Thursday afternoon, he was in the bed under our huge 11′ wide living room window. He was not comatose. I would lean over him, kiss him and tell him how much I loved him. He would mumble back 3 unintelligible syllables. I knew it was “I love you” because one just knows.

    He slowly slipped into a coma and at 2:07am Friday morning, I held his face in my hands, told him I love him and that it was OK to go. He died with me as close as I could get to him without crawling in the bed. Now the only regrets I have are that I did not just crawl into that bed with him. And not having our dog with us. He should have been there.

    I crawled into that bed after they took him. And tried to sleep. I got 30 minutes in before the phone calls started. I laid in it for hours. ………..

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 24, 2019 at 5:04 pm

      thanks for sharing this Boo, there are no words so sending you a huge hug XX

      Liked by 1 person

      • Boo
        January 24, 2019 at 5:27 pm

        There ARE no words unless you have been through it. Then one doesn’t have to speak the words. We just know. Thank you for the hug. I am sitting here leaking out of my eyes remembering but I don’t ever want to forget. Hugs to you too…….xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

      • January 24, 2019 at 5:37 pm

        Thank you my friend 😊 cxx

        Liked by 1 person

  9. January 24, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    Such a tough topic for so many people, Lisa. Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your husband. I think people who have experienced and witnessed suffering are the ones we should be listening to when it comes to these questions. To depart with as much grace and comfort as we can is a gift and sometimes that means leaving this life a little early. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 24, 2019 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind and insightful comments, they are much appreciated 😊 x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. January 24, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for writing this post Ms.Lisa. I can’t imagine going through this situation as you did, but I appreciate your story immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. blindzanygirl
    January 24, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    I want to endorse utterly all that you have said Lisa, so very bravely. I cannot write much because my feelings on this matter, too, are so deep and raw.

    I believe in assisted suicide. It is a route that I personally woukd like to take, but cannot. In my case it us not due to my cabcer itself, but due to how the chemo has left me. That might sound steange tosome, for I am still alive. However, some days my life is not worth living. That is my honest truth. Quality of life us everything, and sadly, mine is losing quality fast, as my body deteriirates and goes diwnhill. I fear my future. I have no family to speak of. My husband who is my Carer is wheelchair bound and sick. I have to face the possibility of going into a Home in the near future, which terrifies me. I suppose many would say to me that I should fight. But I am exgaysted with fighting. With blindness, inabilty to walk, lung problems that make breathing hard, no feeling in my hands, feet and legs, constant pain and pain kilkers just make me vomit, and bowels that work constantly, making going out difficult. It is the chemo that saved my life that did all thus to me. I would like to think that when I have had enough, I could just go. The fear that is inside me, knowing that I can’t do that, and that I will be forced to live on, stops me sleeping at nights, and drives me mad. This is the first time that I have ever said any if this. Thankyou Lisa, and Fandango, for opening the subject up. And Lisa, you are SO brave, and I must am so very very sorry about your husband. Much love to you my friend xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 25, 2019 at 6:04 am

      Oh Lorraine I am very sorry that you’re feeling this way but I think you too have been very brave in sharing these emotions. I can’t say anything else other than I hope you will find some peace. Love and hugs xxxxx

      Like

  12. January 25, 2019 at 12:11 am

    Thank you for broaching a difficult topic and sharing your grief.

    I agree with you that people should have the right to die but we must remember the history of our species. I’ve seen a ‘right’ become a weapon.

    One of the symptoms of chronic schizophrenia is lack of insight: patients genuinely don’t know they’re ill. Prior to Ronald Reagan, all states in the U.S. recognized the State’s duty to impose treatment on people too ill to seek it.

    Mandated hospitalization and treatment was sometimes abused. This resulted in a patient rights movement that fought for and won the ‘right’ of patients to refuse mandatory hospitalization and treatment.

    Reagan seized the opportunity to cut funding for mental health and closed the state hospitals.

    For over forty years, the mentally ill have suffered and died on the streets of America after having
    invoked the ‘right’ to refuse treatment.

    One would think ten years of public suffering would suggest that the ‘right’ to refuse treatment
    needed an amendment to account for people with illnesses that affect insight, but no.

    For over forty years, the people of the United States have pretended that they don’t know how
    homelessness happened and they don’t know how to fix it.

    The truth is a system of fully staffed State Hospitals and the regulators we need
    to protect the patients is expensive.

    It’s cheaper to let the sick ‘choose’ homelessness.

    The U.S. has the most ineffective health care in the world because we manage
    treatment decisions to maximize profit.

    How might such a system use the ‘right’ to die as a way to ‘manage’ cost?

    These are concerns that I think we can address because the right to die is slowly coming, we must be
    scrupulous about determining when and how it is used.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 25, 2019 at 6:07 am

      Thank you for sharing these insights Robert. My feeling is that it should not necessarily be a ‘right’ brought into legislation but there should be no right to prosecute those who make this choice when they are terminally ill

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 25, 2019 at 5:45 pm

        I think you’re right about that. I just don’t want a right to die to be covertly used by for profit systems to pressure the poor into choosing death.

        Liked by 1 person

      • January 25, 2019 at 6:10 pm

        I agree but what a sad indictment on our society that we have to even consider that possibility

        Like

      • January 26, 2019 at 10:53 pm

        I have faith that humanity is becoming an instinctively more principled species. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • January 27, 2019 at 5:59 am

        Wish I could say the same 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  13. January 25, 2019 at 4:07 am

    I agree with you. My answer to this question is yes, terminally ill people should not be forced to suffer. But they are. The question begs the only reasonable restriction: terminal illness. Many people require loving help to make it through difficult times and they should be helped. Unless they have the right kind of health insurance, they are likely not helped. Extra extreme care should be taken for children and anyone under 50, but that is why professionals need to be involved. You said it well, Lisa. This is not a difficult or sensitive topic for me. I would shout from roof tops so that you and so many others like you and your husband do not have to endure such insane and unnecessary torture.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. February 9, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    I am so sorry you went through this! I can’t imagine how painful that must have been and still is. I’m an avid bible reader so I’m quite torn by your question. Taking our own lives is not something God supports. However, Jehovah never designed us to suffer as we do. If I or my husband were terminally ill I would want the opportunity to choose how to die, but I don’t think I could actually go through with it. I just don’t know. I have hope that God will soon rid this world of suffering, pain and death (Revelation 21:3,4) and we will see our loved ones again in Paradise (Luke 23:43; John 5:28,29). Thank you for this honest and moving post. May God continue to provide you with strength to endure your loss.

    Like

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