Right to Die

Recently I read a story of a woman ‘fighting’ for the RIGHT TO DIE.  http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/07/opinion/maynard-assisted-suicide-cancer-dignity/index.html

I think a lot of people might have problems with this issue just for the fact that the woman is only twenty nine years old.  Yes, she is young, yes her family has to deal with her death so soon, and yes it should be her choice.

The Right to Die issue is only approved in a few states in the United States including Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.  In the state of Montana it is allowed but only after it is court ordered, that is, you have to SUE for the right to have a doctor help you die.  For her to be ‘allowed’ to die she had to move from California where it is not allowed but to Oregon where she could obtain a pill for when she is ready which meant she had to uproot her life, find new doctors, and her husband had to take a leave of absence from his job.  This prescription which is allowed to only a few patients, for those who are terminally ill, is prescribed for those who choose to end their life with dignity.

Dying with dignity is a funny thing.  It isn’t about depression which a lot of people assume.  It’s about ending the pain in your body, ending the pain so you can go onto something better.  Family members and even those who know nothing about the issue weigh in on this.  Sometimes out of fear of loss, sometimes out of ignorance.

Personally I believe in the right to die with dignity.  You might ask WHY?  I knew a thirty four year old woman who went through horrible and experimental chemotherapy.  https://kannemeinel.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/do-you-believe-in-miracles/  The pain this woman had to go through, psychological and physical was excruciating.  She chose to go through it though for the sake of her young children.  She survived, but the residual pain that this woman lives with every day of her survival can be a little overwhelming.  She maintains her dignity with humor and ignoring the pain.  The doctors tell her that she has a high tolerance for pain, that doesn’t solve the problems, the aches in joints and muscles just exists in her ‘young’ body, even though the chemo aged it by at least twenty years beyond her chronological age.  Someday, it might be time to make that choice and I believe she should have that choice.  Not just because of the extreme pain that one has to endure, but because someday the alternative of living is just too hard and what is in the beyond is more tenable.

This one young woman’s story that I have included above I understand, I agree with her.  While the tragedy of her death is that she is merely twenty nine, the family having to go on without her is even more tragic.  Having to deal with that loss is overwhelming but keeping her, in pain, in agony, is selfish.

The reason I post this is because I was the thirty four year old woman I mention here.  Thirteen years later I deal daily with the residual effects of chemotherapy and radiation.  The chemotherapy took my waist length hair, that grew back.  The radiation took my thyroid, I take a pill every day for the rest of my life called levothyroxine.  Recently they changed the manufacturer of this pill; it causes me to gain weight.  Yes, I probably could lose the weight through physical activity, but the pain in my joints and muscles is such that that kind of activity causes more pain.  I should really invest in the companies that make ibuprofen.  I’m one of those that has to take 1000mg at a time for it even to be effective.  Yes, I know that you should NEVER take more than 2400mg’s in a day.  The reason for this is you can cause irreparable harm to your liver and perhaps your kidneys.  I’m very well aware of that as I developed a fatty liver (not from the ibuprofen), which has since gone away.  I do not take my ibuprofen every day, just for the simple fact that you build up a tolerance for it and I have to ‘endure’ my pain.  My doctor could prescribe pain meds, but I hate taking pills.  The thought of being a little ‘dulled’ to the pain, building up residual tolerance to the meds, that does not appeal to me.  I will not and have never been a drug seeking patient.  I’m very well aware of my ‘health’ choices and how lucky I am to be here.  But someday, it might be too much.  And not out of depression or impulse, but a right to die with dignity, I would like to make my choice as I did when I decided to pursue the experimental treatment that saved my young life.

I don’t tell you this for your sympathy.  I know it’s an amazing story and it’s mine.  But I want you think, really think, about what if it was you.  Wouldn’t you like the choice to alleviate the pain, to choose your manner of death rather than wait for it?  Why make those you are going to leave behind suffer while they watch you die?  I like the idea of letting people have choices.  I’m not talking ‘let’s kill all the elderly’ or euthanasia.  I’m talking those who know they are going to die, let them make the choice of when.

When it’s my time to die, and I kinda dig that I might get the choice, let me die with dignity.

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4 thoughts on “Right to Die

  1. Judy Comella says:

    K’Ann I had an idea this was your story when I began reading it. You are a courageous women and I’ proud to have made your acquaintance. Stay safe in your travels and enjoy life! it’s just too damn short!

  2. Barb Elgin says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing K’Ann. I know this is such a controversial topic and I am glad 5 states have found a way of dignity. Now, see, this is an issue we need to be focusing on, not whether gay people can marry!

  3. RWills says:

    Wow, K’Anne, you do not ask the easy questions.

    At my advanced age and mediocre health, with everyone I have cared about and who once cared about me now passed away. I have tried to prepare that if the opportunity is allowed me to choose my death, I will have the resources to make my choice happen.

    Every person has differing expectations and degrees of belief in the morality or ethics of choosing one’s own death. The problem with demanding self-determination is, that too often we wait until we are no longer capable of ending our own life. Then we must rely upon the kindness of family or friends or complete strangers.

    What scale do we use too decide, “this far and no farther!” I have seen the long, slow tortuous deaths of people. Who when they were still strong and in control, they proclaimed they would control their deaths. Yet, as they deteriorated, the final fatality not ever in doubt. Each step down that one way trail, they accepted “not today, I’ll take care of it tomorrow”. Every day as the remainder of their life decayed.

    • kannemeinel says:

      If given a choice I believe most humans would ‘choose’ to live. They would fight for their survival. But that being said, the quality of life must be taken into account. Despite living on ‘borrowed’ time I believe my life isn’t too bad. Despite living in pain daily I would not choose to take my life at this time. I believe that a higher power exists and I hope I’m here for a reason.

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