[Be it from] cancer or complications, death is inevitable. I\’ve seen so much prolonged suffering over the past month that if I hadn\’t been a supporter of assisted suicide and such already, I probably would have become one.
Medical science is busily looking for cures for a hundred things; while it has found several already for some things, for others all it has done is come up with an expensive, complicated, painful bandage that prolongs the breakdown of the body. Human mortality rates are lower since the mid-20th century, particularly among cultures with financial access to advanced technologies, but our morbidity rates for non-fatal (as opposed to direct — cause of death from one thing, versus from compound complications) diseases and illnesses are rising due to the age of death being put off longer. But how many people who are living those extra five, ten, or twenty years spend that (or what portion of that) time living, as opposed to being a decomposing and suffering person in need of hospice? And with some people, once they get to the hospice stage, they\’re in it for years.
My maternal grandmother was in hospice for five years, I think it was, and my paternal grandfather has needed daily care from a nurse for three years. My grandma begged her daughters to just leave her alone (stop the force feeding and the medication) so she could die, but they wouldn\’t. My grandfather, in his more lucid moments yesterday, kept telling his nurse AND my grandmother to fuck off and leave him alone. My grandfather is an M.D. who only stopped practicing about fifteen years ago (so he could travel). Now, when he\’s lucid, because of his medical training he knows EXACTLY what is medically happening to his body and mind; he had
patients of his own go through the same thing.
I think it\’s one thing to be aware of your own mortality, but it\’s quite another to be scientifically aware of the ins and outs behind how your own body is slowly dying; to look down at your limbs and know what the cells are doing to make them look that way. God. It just twists my stomach. I don\’t want to watch anyone dying/living like this, particularly if they\’re asking to not be like that. If they don\’t want it prolonged, why force it? Because it\’s unethical to let people die? Because it\’s unethical to do harm? Because it\’s immoral to not do everything in our power to keep people alive? Even if it is against their wishes? Well, for me at least, I say no: I don\’t want that. Not for me. There needs to be something better than a living will, something better than hoping your loved ones (if you even have them) know about and/or will respect your wishes about your care. There needs to be laws to protect the sick when they want to let go, instead of giving their rights away to family or to the state. The sick should still have the right to dictate their own lives, even if that means dying sooner, to be rid of the pain, lack of dignity, and — oh god, and this is so taboo to say, but I\’m going to say it — even boredom that come from having your mind and/or body debilitating yourself to the point of no return.
I am disabled. I have degenerative conditions. But I want to be the one with the power over myself to say when my body has reached the point close enough to its primordial ooze where I can\’t take it anymore because it is only going to get much, much worse. When it is not just my body that will have decayed, but also my cognitive mind will have reached the point where muddiness is a relief because it\’s usually as clear as the La Brea tar pits — that\’s when I will need to be in control of my own destiny most of all.