final exit network, william peace i think i get it now

November 20, 2012 at 4:21 am (assisted suicide, death with dignity, frontline- the suicide plan, how does it feel to die, how to die in oregon, the dr. says) (, , , , , , , , )

william peace is a well-known activist and we have had some discussion over our difference of opinions.  after watching dr. oz i wrote about my feelings regarding the right to die with dignity movement.  i received a well thought out and informative message from william.  at the end we both felt it was important for reasonable people to sit down and have, as we had, a reasonable discussion.  what i could not agree with in the end were two main points.  first i will never agree that just because one person believes a certain way they have the right to thrust that belief on me.  for example, some believe it is a sin to take your own life. i have heard it said that only god has the right to decide who lives or dies. my question is what about those of us who do not believe in god? we do not share that certainty and i do not believe those that do believe,have the right to tell me some entity i don’t believe in is going to make this decision for me.

the second was i did not believe as william does about a slippery slope.  my understanding is if we have the right to die with dignity then somehow (i am not sure of the details) people with disabilities are at risk for being euthanized.  until seeing  Frontline-show this seemed a bit murky to me.  the show outlined once again how some states are allowing assisted suicide and others are prosecuting these cases.  the first person followed is an 80-something woman with advanced lung cancer.  she has made the decision to end her life.  the group Compassionate Choices were all set to help her.  she had purchased the medication needed and knew what she was going to take and in what combination.  her husband said he was catholic and would not do this himself but felt she had the right to die the way she wanted to.  this all was in line with my belief in the right to die with dignity.  next was the story of a woman named jana.

jana was a 50 something year old woman.  she believed she was terminally ill. in fact she was not.  she had gallbladder surgery years ago, she thought she had breast cancer, she thought she had high-blood pressure.  there were a couple of other ailments on her list.  this list was submitted to the Final Exit Network.  ostensibly the list was reviewed by a physician who approved her for assistance with her suicide.  someone from the network went over how she would make a hood, connect it to a tank of helium, slip it over her head and turn on the gas.  they would then remove the hood and the tank so people would think she had died of natural causes.  her relatives were suspicious and called the police.  from there it was discovered just how she had died.  here is the thing that shocked me, as i see this list i realize she is not terminally ill, although she had claimed to be in horrendous pain.  some say this pain whether real or not caused her life to be not worth living.  her sister testified that jana was mentally ill and did believe she was dying, she had believed this for many years.  my mind is still trying to make some sense of a dr. approving her for assisted suicide.

of course another way of looking at this is to understand how important regulations are.  if this were legal as it is in oregon and washington this kind of thing would not happen. any dr. that prescribed the fatal cocktail would be under constant scrutiny. only patients who are terminally ill would be eligible.  as long as it is illegal it will remain like back alley abortions.  when abortion is legal it is safe.  whether we agree with that choice or not is not important. a woman has the right to decide what happens to her body. too many women lost their lives and their ability to have children in the future just because one group of people wanted to tell others how to live their life.  as with the right to die, abortions are personal choices that do not infringe on the lives of others.  i understand the argument and yet i do not agree. i am concerned here about jana and how many  like her are being “helped by these groups who claim to aid/assist only those who are terminally ill.  how many jana’s have there been?

the following are taken from the websites for the afore-mentioned groups.

this is from the Final Exit Network:

Our Guiding Principles

We hold that mentally competent adults have a basic human right to end their lives under the following conditions:

  • they suffer from a fatal or irreversible illness or intractable pain,
  • they judge that their quality of life is unacceptable to them,
  • they judge that their future is hopeless.

compassionate choices is another organization developed for the same cause.

Compassion & Choices is the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping everyone have the best death possible. We offer free counseling, planning resources, referrals and guidance, and across the nation we work to protect and expand options at the end of life.

For over thirty years we have reduced people’s suffering and given them some control in their final days – even when injury or illness takes their voice. We are experts in what it takes to die well.

William Peace, i understand your concerns now.  i now ask how many people like jana has this organization assisted to leave this life too early?  any dr. could have easily evaluated her request and understood she was not a candidate for their final exit plan.  mr. peace i hope that you will continue to find the strength to fight for the jana’s of the world.

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christina symanski, whitney houston, how to die in oregon, the comeback, and so much more

February 17, 2012 at 12:41 am (assisted suicide, choice, christina symanski, death with dignity, how does it feel to die, how to die in oregon, the comeback, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

let me just warn you that I am about to go on a rant, like non you have experienced here before. so you have been warned.  you know that I have very definite views on most issues so this will come as no surprise.  there are some constraints though and it is out of love for you,  there are some things I do not want you to question after I am gone. many times I have said ask me what you want now while I can answer and have those conversations if we need to.  in “the comeback” by shane hodge, shane takes the time to have these conversations with his mother and it left him in a good place.  it left him with pleasant memories and gave his mother the chance to share what we as parents hope to pass on to our children and loved ones.  some participate on a larger scale as in the documentary “How To Die in Oregon.”  this is my outlet for that desire to be understood.  most of my life it has been to my confusion and at times amusement for people to say who i am.  very sure of their interpretation people will say I am quiet while others think that is far from accurate, some think I am serious, others not so much.  I have been seen as someone who observes and analyses while others not knowing my profession find me the least judgemental person they have ever met.  does anyone ever truly know us?  do people simply make up their mind who we are and then make our behavior fit that mold as a detective decides someones guilt and then makes the evidence support that?  it is my observation people tend to want us to be who they think we are and do not want to be confused with the truth.  I can tell who I truly am and those that know me will say “oh no that is not true at all” as though they know me so much better than I know myself. 

here is a hint about who I am,  ah so here is the rub … see I was about to write about something that happened when I was young and would have made an excellent example of how I chose not to judge others.  it is  an incident that few know about and it is not something I would want my family to read here for the first time.  some know about it and hopefully they understand how it defined my life as a turning point and aided me in deciding how important my choice to look at things from all points of view has been.  it shocks me that I am struggling with my feelings now to understand how we have come to this horror story (Christie) and still choose not to have a responsible conversation about the right to die with dignity. this is where the rant begins, you have been warned, look away if you need to, it is about to get ugly.

let’s start with how we as a society feel it is our decision who dies and under what conditions.  who decides what is “life worth living?”  is it not our personal right? how about the constitution ???? life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  if my liberty is the liberty to end my life what are politicians doing trying to decide this for me?  and we are off!!! politicians!!!  mostly republicans and christians, these people are fine people, it is not my intent to label all republicans and christians.  please be sure to read this part over if you need to. NOT MY INTENT TO LABEL ALL REPUBLICANS AND CHRISTIANS!!!!  it is my intent to point out some theories that I personally find difficult to understand.  some people want to abolish the social programs that assist our poor, they also want to do away with birth control??? so have children you can’t afford but don’t ask for assistance? do I have that right?  say “get a job” really?  those “job makers” don’t seem to be making enough jobs and with the growing population that is going to be a bigger issue in years to come.  also our truly impoverished are children, that’s right, children. gingrich has the fix for that though, just put those poor kids to work! that’s right forget about child labor laws, go back a few years when children were sold in to what was essentially slavery. sweat shops anyone? guess that would give the break to those job makers that they need. no need to pay children living wages.  more women can die in childbirth so that would help with population control I guess, in the end it really is a win- win for the very rich.  however, they just scream gay marriage a few times and people don’t really hear what else is being said.  some say they want LESS GOVERNMENT, then they want the government to say who can get married, there is also the desire for the government to decide if a woman can have control over her own body or do we go back in time to men telling us what to do and say? will it stop there or will we be protected from big decisions like having the vote? owning property? what else is the government ready to decide for us?  oh yes they want to tell us whether or not our life is worth living.  silly me! why should I have the right to die with dignity??? there must be some reason that other’s need to make that choice for me. of course I may not be able to decide without being talked into it by well-meaning family members.  they are standing by the bedside ready for me to make my exit. it is only fair to them and so I must do as they want since I am weak-minded and do what others want me to do.  this is a decision I can not make on my own, and my family can’t be trusted, so gratefully the government is here to make that decision for me and every other human who thinks and wants to be in control of their body.  no I am not worthy of a dignified exit from this life.  the government wants me to suffer whatever indignity I must to satisfy those who don’t know me and don’t know what my life is like. 

the argument of people might end their life out of concern for their family or caregiver is beyond lame to me.  first I want to say so what if I choose to think of them? is it not the loving thing to do?  they suffer as well and as I have chosen to think of them and be concerned for their happiness in the past is it so surprising I might think of them now?  it is not a deciding factor, however, it is a piece of a very complicated puzzle.  people are crying over whitney houston and frankly I am confused and a little annoyed. this woman made the choice to use drugs, have children and then subject them to domestic violence and a home with an addict.  how is it more tragic for her to choose death, yes I know it is a disease and yes I think she made her choices.  life was too easy for her.  show up stoned and people feel sorry for you, if you are rich and a star.  if you are poor you are getting what you deserve.  we are cutting rehab programs for the poor so the message is:  if you are rich it is tragic, if you are poor too bad and no stars will be mourning your death. there will be no tributes on 60 minutes, oprah will not speak out about the loss to us all, you will just be one more junkie that the state had to bury.

Christine died months ago and yet we are just now seeing a story about her.  she was not rich, she was not a star, she was a girl who did a stupid thing and ended up a quadriplegic.  she is not the first and sorry to say she will not be the last.  she was a bright young woman who did not choose to continue living under her circumstances.  disability advocates say if we give someone like her the right to die with dignity( assisted suicide) it is a slippery slope and soon society will be rounding up all disabled persons and killing them.  this seems a bit far-fetched to me.  even if I agreed with having some guidelines as the person must be terminally ill there is then the argument that family will persuade the patient to take this drastic step. how that is seen to play out is not something I want to think about.  if physicians were allowed to assist it would add  another safety measure  to the process.  I do not see assisted suicide in my future as I would never put my family in that position, even if it were legal.  in “how to die in oregon” there was an experienced person to be the actual “assistant”, they stay with the patient a bit before and then give the patient the cocktail, they then let the family know they can join their loved one or not as they choose. it is quick and everyone knows what to expect.  goodbyes can be said.  the person is asked a few questions to make sure they understand what is about to happen and that it is still their choice.  this takes all the responsibility off the family. if certain members don’t want to be there it is their choice. if someone wants to spend those precious moments with the loved one they can.  christie was denied this option.  people who don’t know her decided if she wanted to end her suffering she must suffer to do so.  no dignity here, no quiet loving goodbyes and then a letting go and moving on with peace.  she had to suffer for nearly a month.  the only way for her to die was to refuse all medications, food and fluid.  can you even begin to imagine the last days, weeks of her life?  she was given no other option here,she could  live what she believed to be a tortured life or be tortured to death. a long and agonizing death and what did she do to deserve this????  since she was a quad she could not allow anyone to assist her by giving her the cocktail that would have released her from this suffering. no she would have put them in danger of being prosecuted, they would have been criminals for being merciful.  if we are not merciful then who are we?  we talk about gods mercy and wanting to live a godly life.  would that not include mercy for this suffering girl?? 

it breaks my heart and yet I know that I too may have to make some hard choices. do you think she wanted her family to suffer what they had to? they stood by her and nursed her while watching her slowly and painfully die in a most undignified manner.  that is what we are deciding not just for christie but all the christie’s, all the terminally ill who just want to leave with their dignity in tact.  for the families to of these people to suffer watching this unfold and not being able to ease the suffering of the loved one.  this is what some want to decide for all of us.  christie is not the first to endure this and she won’t be the last, there will be no headlines, no 60 minutes and no oprah mourning any of us.  we are not rich and famous.  we are just people who want to make this one last choice for ourselves.  as free and liberated members of a free society.

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Mourning for Christina Symanski: Better Off Dead?

December 14, 2011 at 2:15 am (assisted suicide, choice, coping, death, death with dignity, family, hope, how to die in oregon, life is random, moving forward, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

anyone watching “how to die in oregon” could come away with several thought-provoking ideas.  one that, in my opinion, was fundamental to the documentary is the choice/ability to change ones mind.  if you opt for assisted suicide or ending your life with “dignity” there will not be a chance for that very basic tenet.  until recently I have held firm that it is the right of the individual to make that decision for themselves.  in my mind there are qualifiers, you must be terminal, in your opinion( and not the opinion of others) your life has ceased to have meaning or dignity.  it is still my belief that one person can not understand the full gravity of another humans suffering….

that is until I became aware of Christina Symanski.  if you are upset easily with what may seem to some as a harsh interpretation then I ask that you not read further. if you do please keep in mind that it is one persons opinion, mine, and that is the only one I can voice here with real understanding and honesty.  initially the reaction to her decision was the standard not for me to judge. it is not my intention here to judge her as a human only the decision and what it was based upon.  she truly suffered, in the blink of an eye she made a rash decision and paid for it dearly.  in 2005 this young woman was at a party, she became frustrated that others were not going for a swim and so she dove into a pool that was not to capacity.  as a result her life as she knew it was ending, it could have been a beginning and for some that is what it would have been.  only another quad would be able to have more than a cursory knowledge of this way of life.  yes I said way of life, it was different from what  she had experienced so far. to some it would have been a change in lifestyle, to her it was the end of life as she knew it.  on a smaller scale my own experience took me from extremely athletic to sedentary.  this was not by choice and certainly took adjustment.  while not on the same scale it gives me a glimpse some may not have.

on the outside Christina appears to have so many reasons to value her life, yet she made the decision to end her most precious gift.  having a mother with a serious disability gave me a different understanding of how to cope with obstacles.  even now with numerous health problems and post-polio syndrome marie does not consider( to my knowledge) ending her life.   the question that seemed to repeat itself throughout her blog was why me?  it has been my choice to ask why not me?  the what if game can lead to crazy making thinking.  it is my belief we are where we are supposed to be at any given time so it would stand the what if does not have a place in my life.  certainly that does not preclude learning from mistakes.  there have been many along the road and I anticipate making many more.  it gave me a chuckle, and I hope I can be forgiven here, to read about a man with Parkinson’s who fell trying to something he wanted to do and yet most certainly knew it would not come out well in the end.  I laughed and laughed, not at him but at myself and how we give up such ideas only when faced with very real danger.  at times my physical being is so weak that I trip and fall quite easily.  last year while my husband was away it was my belief that I could go down the few stairs in front without holding on. what was I some invalid?  out I go and down I go, very hard it should be added.  over the front and into some hedges, as I lay thinking of my humiliation it occurred to me that the neighbors could not see me due to the hedge.  so taking my time I eventually made my way to a sitting position, drug myself to the stairs and in time back to the house.  a few days later, hubby still gone, it seemed reasonable to try again. of course I had learned my lesson and was prepared mentally if not physically.  was I none the wiser? well yes and no.  as I began to fall it occurred to me that the army training would be valuable about now.  so I looked to the side of the porch and pitched my body that way as it would be a softer landing.  it was farther down but it was softer.  the farther down part made it a bit more difficult to maneuver back to the porch, however being in one piece gave me spirit of heart.  until his return the garage became my exit and entry as it was easier and safer.  

 laughter seemed to be missing from her writing.  it is not that she didn’t experience laughter it just occurred to me it was absent in a way I can not explain.  although she was involved with good works, was able to continue as an artist and had time on her side, she must have been so sad.  not sad  in the common way we may feel sad but down in your heart and soul sad.    the kind too many are not able to recover from.  

this one time I will allow myself the what if question, what if this young woman had been able to wait, and our system of healthcare could have given her another option?  was she just destined to this end? that is one possibility, there is no hope in that answer. no hope is really what killed this young woman.  she will be remembered by many, for as many different reasons as there are people.  she will be remembered here in this house and her death has given me more  questions  than answers.  a life gone too soon. her choice.  I will respect it was her decision.  like every decision we make it will continue to affect others.  those that live are those that live with our decisions.

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dr. oz, montel williams and the “Bad Cripple”

November 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm (assisted suicide, choice, death with dignity, dr. oz, euthanasia, how to die in oregon, montel williams) (, , , , , , )

it is my hope that anyone reading this will not misunderstand my intentions.  in no way do I advocate for assisted suicide. now, having said that I want to share that one of the comments left, was done so by William Peace and he has a blog named the bad cripple.  after approving his comment I sent Bill an email, he responded much more quickly than I expected and I will say that I was pleasantly surprised.  it would have been so easy to just delete his comment as he does not agree with me and my interpretation of the dr. oz show.  Bill was in fact in the audience that day. as he stated in his email he was offended, that the discussion had been one-sided and the audience had been whipped into a frenzy. those are his words and he gave me permission to use his name and the blog name.  if you are inclined to do so I recommend checking it out.  the more we listen to others and their perspective the better.  this country needs to wake up and have an open mind or we are never going to solve the problems facing us as a nation or as an individual. 

How To Die In Oregon is my ideal for showing the issues facing terminally ill humans.  Bill recommends that we simply deny life saving treatment if we want to end our life. he goes on to say (in his blog) it is more about how we live our life and his concern that there is a slippery slope to another holocaust where we as a society start just putting people “down” as they do not fit some standard of life.  sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! I would encourage a national and statewide vote on this issue.  why would I need to suffer even more by refusing treatment and thereby the indignities that it brings with it?  it is not my intent to ask someone else to assist me with this moral dilemma. would it be a comfort to me to have those I love accept this choice if it is the one I make? absolutely! would I ask them? NEVER!!!  this is about having the right to end one’s own life with dignity, this is not about putting someone else in harm’s way.  even if it were legalized is it moral?  the person choosing to die would not have to live with that decision. the person/persons that are left behind are the ones who will carry this burden. 

I can not say what I would choose as I am not at that point, I can say that it is my right as a human being to leave this life with dignity, I have tried to live a good life and will not leave this life any other way.  so please read at least one post by the bad cripple and get another perspective.  it is my firm belief that it is a personal choice, it would be comforting to know I could turn to a professional and say this is what I am thinking about.  I can’t do that thanks to the opinion of others who have made that choice unavailable to me.  this seems harmful in a major way, if someone could talk open and honestly with their healthcare provider they might not want to use the option of assisted suicide. left feeling abandoned and no one to turn to would seem injurious to someone already fragile. 

my mother had polio as a child and is truly crippled by it.  she has 3 daughters and growing up with her it never occurred to me that she would be better off if she took her own life.  that is one reason I don’t worry about the slippery slope.  we are smart enough to make the distinction between someone with a debilitating terminal illness and someone who is disabled.  maybe i just have more faith in my fellow human beings.

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How does it feel to die?

October 29, 2011 at 7:11 am (holidays, how does it feel to die, how to die in oregon, increased suicide during holidays, suicide/suicide ideation, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Now we can google just about any question. I decided to google how to die. most of the answers were giving advice about suicide, or in one case it was a counseling site that suggested you decide who you wanted to leave your assets to (and by the way they would be happy to help you leave your worldly goods to them).  there was a site where a dr. had written an article outlining some guidelines such as the right questions to ask your doctor, and then back to the fundamentals of what to expect when you are in the hospital, and how the patient can make sure they and the family are following the hospital protocol.

My search was in hope that someone else was writing about this from a personal viewpoint and could share with the rest of us some insights.  Ever since my friend asked if I was afraid to be gone, I have wanted to explore that further, and understand what that really means both as a question and how it can be answered.   one question would be is it  distressing to experience consciousness slipping away or something people can accept with equanimity? equanimity meaning,  emotional stability or composure arising from a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment.  for myself I believe, and hope, that I can continue to experience the same peace I have now at the time of my leaving this world. we each have to experience life’s trials on our own and in our own way, understanding that does not change that I hope for family and friends to share in my joy of life. I can not stress enough here that each moment I share with others is such a gift and I appreciate each and every one.  if I could wave a magic wand, there would be no sadness, but that is our nature to be sad at the time of loss.

the comfort of long relationships, as well as the anticipation of new and growing friendships, are a large part of this period in my life.  how does it feel to die? how does it feel to live? each of us experiences these events in our own way in our own time.  I am hoping that how we have lived gives us insight in to how we will die,  not the time or place but the actual leaving this body. How To Die In Oregon was a great documentary and exposed a controversy that many would rather not have to deal with.  It did not really tell us how to die. maybe that is something no one else can tell us, we must experience it in our own way.

many people suffer depression, and statistics say suicide/suicide ideation (thinking of it) goes up during the holiday season. I for one will not be thinking of it and am blessed with enough  light in my life that depression has no room to enter. for those that will suffer, I can only wish for them to seek out others to talk to and to remind them that everything can change in the blink of an eye, so don’t close that eye just yet.  I believe that I will enjoy another holiday season but if it not meant to be I will be grateful for the ones I have had.

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“How To Die In Oregon”

May 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm (choice, death with dignity, dying, feelings and thoughts, hope, how to die in oregon, living) (, , , )

if you missed the documentary How To Die In Oregon I hope that you will take the first opportunity that you get. for me to be “in the room” with Cody who is almost the same age as I am and hear she has  some of the same feelings I do was a rare moment in time. we did not agree on everything but to hear her express her desires and fears and that thing that someone else can’t grasp, the guilt of taking too long to move on. I completely understood that feeling of not wanting to make it harder on her family and concern when she seemed to pass the “deadline” (sorry no joke intended) for her own death she felt guilty. I do not feel that way but understand it. at some point I am concerned about the ups and downs of my own decline. a few months ago things looked pretty grim, no real improvement took place but I settled in to this new norm as I have in the past.  I am active in finding ways to understand my disease and work with it. stopping one medication will not stop the illness but it gives me the feeling of some small control still. if there is a chance stopping this medication will give me more time then I’m for it. the fewer drugs I have to take the better I like it anyway. not that I am opposed to medication and will definitely take meds that help without harm. in the end Cody decides to exit her life. in Oregon this is legal. the dr. writes you a prescription and you must fill it yourself and though a professional mixes the cocktail the patient must be able to drink this mix on their own. before drinking they are asked if they understand what is going to happen and must be able to express that. they are reminded that it is their decision alone and may change their mind any time prior to drinking.

some people filled the prescription but never used it. these people either waited too long or just decided to let nature take its course. either way it is their choice and I wish that our society was more open to the idea that a person has the right to decide for themself if this is right or wrong. many people say we have too much govt in our lives but in a case like this they want the govt to tell a person who is suffering if they can end their suffering. it is far to large an issue for me to address here. I know that some are going to be very upset by the idea of dying with dignity. who is to say?

on the Facebook page for this documentary so many have already left messages about how touched they were and how beautifully done it was. Cody was mentioned over and over even though she is not the only person shown. she is on longer and more detailed. the one person I thought did not get the recognition he deserved was the man with prostate cancer. he was so angry because he had been diagnosed with cancer, received chemotherapy and the cancer had returned. he had been given 6 mos to live and wanted more treatment. the insurance company would not pay for more as it would not extend his life by 5 yrs. after much publicity they decided to cover him and he still died. he had received a letter that stated he was entitled to palliative care which is hospice and end of life comfort. the fury he felt that his life was not valued by the company was palpable. as much as I supported Cody’s decision to exit life did he not deserve the same support in wanting to fight to the end for his extension of life?

whether someone with a terminal illness decides to end their life or go out swinging is up to them. all the rest of us can do is love them and try to understand what they are going through. this documentary gives everyone a rare insight into how someone who is dying may be feeling or thinking. it is important to recognize though that this documentary has an agenda. as do they all, it is to inform the public on a specific topic. they can not and do not represent all people with terminal illnesses. after my appt today Chris and I were talking and we are lucky to be on the same page with this. we are staying hopeful. we are not unaware of the reality of my situation but we will continue to be hopeful until …. actually maybe it is what you hope for that changes not that you hope.

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