Death with Dignity

TW: Suicide & Death

 

The first couple of years after I got sick, and didn’t have any diagnosis’s  I thought I was dying. I was called a “medical mystery” and a “head scratcher” over and over again, and I thought that I had some obscure disease that was going to kill me. Even though I still don’t have many answers and no great diagnosis, I’ve had so many tests done that I know I’m probably not dying anymore than the next person is. During that time I watched a documentary on Netflix called How to Die in Oregon, which is about the Death with Dignity Act.

Five states in the U.S. have passed a “Death with Dignity Act”: California, Washington, Oregon, and Vermont. It is also available in Montana with a court decision. This act let’s individuals with a terminal illness, who are given a prognosis of six months or less to live, the opportunity to end their lives with a prescription that causes you to die peacefully within minutes. You have to have completely established residence in one of these states in order to be eligible.

Before I got sick I didn’t think much about dying besides where I would go afterword. Sure, anyone could randomly drop dead from some unknown medical issue, or die in a car wreck going to the grocery store, but these weren’t things that crossed my mind often. I think everyone should watch this documentary, because it really opened my eyes and changed my opinion on the subject.

The “Death with Dignity Act” is just that. Letting people with terminal illnesses take control of the way they die, in the most dignified way possible. For the record I don’t think choosing to wait till the illness kills you isn’t “dignified”; it is a completely valid decision, and I think everyone deserves to die the way they choose when put in a situation like this. Unfortunately most of America seems to either disagree or doesn’t see it as a big enough issue to make new laws about.

In each of the states that has legalized physical assisted suicide, there are different rules. All of them require either a MD or DO to prescribe the medication and for the patient to be 18 or over. They also require the patient to be conscious of the effects of the medication both when they request the prescription and when they decide to take it. When you choose to take the medication you must be able to take it without assistance.

The people who have taken this route or are advocates for “Death with Dignity” believe this act will give terminally ill people the power to decide their own fate, and give more stability in the situation. Most people who have choose to get the prescription because they don’t want to wither away while their families watch, or live in extreme pain only to die from the illness. They want to die while they still have their minds, and are the people their family and friends know and love. Being able to decide when and where you die can give the terminally ill peace of mind and closure.

I have been in so much pain over the past five years that I can completely understand why someone would make this decision. This is something I would like to see legalized on a federal level. The hardship of a terminal illness is something I will never be able to understand completely, but I have watched my great aunt die from cancer, and it was horrific. It started out as cancer of the salivary gland (she smoked) and ended up taking over her whole body, including her brain. Her personality changed completely and she would cry put in pain everyday for months before she died.  I think healthy or “abled” people often have a hard time understanding the complexities of this kind of situation. It’s easier to see when you’ve dealt with health issues and seen others suffer.

Another resource I would suggest checking out is the story CNN  did on Brittany Maynard a 29 year old woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon so she could receive the drugs for physician assisted suicide. In the end death with dignity is about giving people the choice to end their pain when they know there is no cure or treatment to help them. No one wants to suffer, and I believe this is a dignified decision and a right everyone should have. I hope this will be legalized, but with our new government I don’t think anything will change for a while, but I am hopeful.

What are your thoughts on the Death with Dignity Acts?

Let me know below,

Alyssa

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9 thoughts on “Death with Dignity

  1. Some years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully it was not terminal but from that experience I can fully understand why people would want this to be legal. Going through several months of pain and suffering, not of just yourself but of the people who love you, it is hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you had to deal with cancer, but I’m happy to hear it wasn’t terminal. Both my parents have had cancer technically, but neither one was a very big deal. I hope you are doing better now!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Going through the process right now of getting diagnoses, I feel exactly as you said, sure I’ll die sometime soon. The days are long, the misery is encompassing, and there is no way to avoid being humiliated a million times over as you lose the ability to do things for yourself and have nurses, doctors, your husband, your son…all see you at your worst. I’ve lost all ability to move on days and the closest person (paramedic, nurse, husband) has to scratch my nose for me. I now get an overwhelming sensation daily of wanting to rip out of this skin and body and it’s so strong that it can lead to panic attacks.

    This is just the beginning. I’ve been told it may be ALS. That’s a horrible way to go. But I can tell you this, I live in Washington state (we actually moved here because of my illness and the power of medical cannabis), and if and when my time comes in the way it looks to be coming, I will absolutely choose to go on my terms. And I will look forward to seeing my Maker on the other side. I know that my God is more compassionate than to decide all of eternity on whether or not I chose to lose all dignity in live in excruciating pain and misery for the last six months of hell on this earth.

    Great topic! You always make me think and I love that about this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a hard time with this subject. I was raised by very strict Catholic grandparents. And just like many other things, suicide is wrong. And to some extent I agree, but here’s is the problem, I have wanted to kill myself. My postpartum depression took over my brain. So now I am conflicted. I know what it feels like when there is nothing left to live for (when there really is). I was disgusted with myself for even thinking those things because of how I was raised, even though I don’t practice Catholicism anymore.
    Sorry, this is getting a bit off subject but I feel like that is important to know why I have slowly started to change my mind.
    Anyway, I do think death with dignity should be legal. It is hard for me to accept that people would want to kill themselves but then I take a minute and think about how I felt at my lowest and it’s not even close to what these men and women are feeling. I do not have a terminal disease and I am not in constant pain, yet I contemplated the option of suicide.
    At the end of the day it does not effect anyone else’s lives other than those who are making the decision and their relatives. And on most of these issues I truly do feel it’s not anyone else’s place to say what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I would never consider myself suicidal, I have definitely wanted to kill myself to end the constant pain I’m in. I’m sorry you had to deal with postpartum depression, that must be very hard. My best friend in middle school tried to kill herself twice, but was unsuccessful both times, and it was heart breaking to me. I think a lot of issues fall into a grey area. I don’t think suicide is “Evil” but I believe there is so much to live for and we need more resources for people dealing with all types of depression. In this specific situation, when you know you’re gonna die, no matter what you do, I can see why people would want to end it before they are living in constant pain that medication won’t touch.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, it must be terrifying to know you are going to die. Then add all the pain they are in on top of it. It’s heartbreaking. The older I get and the wiser I get I drift away from my Catholic views but it’s definitely taken some time.
        And I agree 100% with the fact that we need more resources to help people deal with mental illness. It’s what I’m going to school for, because of my struggle with postpartum depression. I just want to help other people feel better.

        Liked by 2 people

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