Dying is a lonely journey. Not only for the sick person but also for the family. As hard as we may try to avoid death, the truth is that we do a lousy job of it. Science and medicine will certainly postpone it, even staying healthy might seem to delay it, but the harsh reality is that death does not wait for you, it does not ask you, and it does not listen to you. Death ignores your feelings and wants; you do not matter to death…Death is the only certainty in life! We need to remember that our existence here is fragile, and we never have as much time with people as we think we do. If there is someone or someones out there that you love, don’t neglect that and don’t put off engaging with them because waits for no-one… Vic's Journey ended on 18 January 2013 at 10:35. She was the most courageous person in the world and has inspired thousands of people all over the world. Vic's two boys are monuments of her existence. She was an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend. I will miss you today, tomorrow and forever my Angle Child.
Today we lit candles in remembrance of Vic dying 200 days ago. My mind keeps crying “No! It is not true!” The void in my heart and life shrieks “Yes, it is!”
I met with a new Hospice patient today. She is in her early 60’s, petite, bright, friendly, positive and so unbelievably brave! She is also in denial and dying.
“I believe I will wake up one morning and I will be healed!” she said
Her skin has discoloured from the chemo, her eyes are turmeric yellow and her belly is very extended. Her feet and legs are dreadfully swollen. I believe that she is close to death. Yet this incredible woman is determined to go to the office from the 12th of August until the 27th of August as her replacement is on leave then…. I doubt that she will live that long!
I sat there and it was déjà vu… It was as if I was listening to Vic planning next week, next month and next year…. I heard her husband encouraging her to write letters, finalising her will. I shared with them how Vic had labeled every piece of her jewellery, given strict instructions on what had to happen to her possessions, planned her own funeral…
“Am I correct when I say that I hear you saying your child died?” the patient asked.
“Yes” I said. “200 days ago today”
“I cannot believe that you can talk about your child’s death! You are smiling and look so normal” she said. “When our son died we could not talk about it. We cried all the time…”
“Death is not the enemy. I prayed for my child to die…” I said.
Over the past 10 years I have seen my child suffer so much indignity and indescribable pain. I have seen the despair in her eyes, the helplessness in the eyes of her boys….I have stood next to her bed and physically pulled my hair in frustration – tears pouring down my cheeks. I have wept before God and prayed for Vic to die. I begged God to take away her suffering.
I advocated the right to die with dignity.
Vic has been in the care of Hospice for the past 3 months. In this time Vic has been given a new lease on life. Hospice cannot change the prognosis but they have given Vic quality of Life. For the past three months Vic has been able to occasionally get out of bed, go for milkshakes with her boys, she went to Jared’s confirmation and Jon-Daniel’s honours evening. She completed her photo albums.
Vic is in renal and hepatic failure. Her tissue is horrendous. Her pain is under control! As and when symptoms surface, Vic’s medication is adjusted. She is treated with compassion and respect. Her wish is the teams command….
As the situation is now I am so grateful that my child is alive. I treasure every breath that she takes. We chat, laugh and cry. We dream of going to Italy in 2013.
So given the situation now what would I advocate – The right to die with dignity or the right to live?
I have no doubt that if Vic’s pain and symptoms got worse, I would want her suffering to end. If it remains as great as it is now of course I want her to live. But it is key that Vic is allowed to live with Dignity!
As much as I advocate the right to die with dignity I believe that the final decision lies with the sick person. It is not for family or physicians to play God. The patient has to be the only decision maker.
I must admit that if the decision was mine to make, my child’s suffering would have ended a long time ago.
We all have the right to Live with Dignity. There is a huge difference between breathing and living…
When Tony Nicklinson’s legal team visited him two days after the high court decision, he communicated via computer by moving his eyes “So, we lost. In truth I am crestfallen, totally devastated and very frightened. I fear for the future and the misery it is bound to bring.
“I suppose it was wrong of me to invest so much hope and expectation into the judgment but I really believed in the veracity of the arguments and quite simply could not understand how anybody could disagree with the logic. I guess I forgot the emotional component.”
Today at 10:00 Tony Nichlinson died surrounded by his loved ones. His family said he simply gave up….. This supports my theory that death is actually a conscious decision. I have seen Vic turn back from death. It is not anything physical but in that second something changes! We all know of someone who has “held on” until a loved one walked in whilst others wait until their loved ones have left the room before they die. I have personally experienced this with my mom when she passed.
First, published studies have shown that people who undergo cardiac arrest can recall specific memories and demonstrate consciousness. Second, during cardiac arrest, there is no measurable brain activity. “If you combine these two sets of data together, it indicates a need to do a large study to determine: is this real or not? Can this really be going on?”
Still, the explanation behind these events can be attributed to the complexity of the human mind, not, as some believe, a universal spiritual experience, or even a new realm of science.
“When you study mind and brain, you see that, although in many circumstances this practical model we have developed — mind and brain are the same thing — is fine, when you go to an extreme environment like during a cardiac arrest…they don’t seem to apply anymore,” says Parnia. “It may suggest that there’s something that hasn’t been discovered scientifically.”
Studies by Parnia and other researchers show that between 10 and 20 percent of who are resuscitated from cardiac arrest had a near-death experience (NDE). Various other studies show the frequency of near-death experience to be between 4 and 18 percent. The experience is typically described as a progression of stages. First, the person has a sense of peace, then a sense of separation from the body. The person then enters into darkness, and sees a bright light like the end of a tunnel. Finally, the person enters the light and interacts with an entity, described as God, Allah, or simply a universal cosmic force.
The art of dying is the art of letting go. Our fear of death and letting go keeps us in fear of uncertainty and change, which are a natural part of life. Out of these fears we hold on to old beliefs which make us live in fear, misery and the idea of separation. Our fear of death is deeply repressed and usually unconscious. We are filled with fear and trepidation when a beloved dies, is terminally ill, or when we ourselves are challenged with illness, old age or a life threatening situation.
I am grateful that Tony Nicklinson’s suffering and misery has ended. He is at peace and I believe now truly lives in a healed body His suffering is over. I thank God for His Mercy.
I just finished watching a program called “How to Die in Oregon“. I am in total awe of the terminally ill people who make the decision to die with dignity. People often say that it is a coward who commits suicide. I don’t agree. I think people must be so brave to do it!!
There is however a huge difference between suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Assisted suicide is the common term for actions by which an individual helps another person voluntarily bring about his or her own death. “Assistance” may mean providing one with the means (drugs or equipment) to end one’s own life, but may extend to other actions. It differs to euthanasia where another person ends the life. The current waves of global public debate have been ongoing for decades, centering on legal, religious, and moral conceptions of “suicide” and a personal “right to death“. Legally speaking, the practice may be legal, illegal, or undecided depending on the culture or jurisdiction
The TV documentary, “How to Die in Oregon” is the tender and poignant story of Cody Curtis, a 54 year old, dignified, lady, who is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Cody, early in her final journey decides that pain strips one from the ability to make rational decisions. She decides that she will not suffer the indignity of living with loss of control of her bodily functions. She desires a “tidy death”. Her journey takes her way past her “expiry date” and she muses “People are waiting for me to die. I do not understand why I am feeling so good”.
Her decline into intolerable pain and discomfort is sudden. “Compassion and Choices” sends in volunteers to counsel and assist with the final act of assisted suicide. Cody’s final journey is gentle, beautiful and “easy”.
Every time I say those terrible words “Vic is better” it is as if I place a curse on my poor child. Poor Vic did not have a good day today. Isn’t it amazing that 400mg of Morphine does not help for a headache! It actually takes something like Grandpa’s or a Migraine Kit to help….
Vic and I sat chatting tonight. She too had watched “How to Die in Oregon” and wanted to know how I would feel if she ever took a similar decision. She cried and said that she is so sad and lonely. She feels that the boys no longer trust her to “mother” them.
It is not the case. What the boys have however started doing is setting her free….
How would I feel? I would be devastated if Vic ever passed before I do. I would miss her every second of my remaining life. I would respect her wishes. I would honor her memory and heart wrenching decision.
Nobody can begin to comprehend the pain that Vic suffers. Nobody can comprehend that she drifts from one pain filled day to the next. If she lived an extra month or two months it would be another month or two months of pain. That is a lot of pain.
I know that this post will elicit a lot of condemnation and criticism. When you have walked just ONE mile in our moccasins you may speak….