Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Right To Die Debate

Oh. My. God!

I really do not know how I managed to survive yesterday. I couldn't breath, I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't eat and my stomach and ankles were like balloons due to all the water I was drinking (and retaining). I did think about taking an extra furosomide  but that would have made me even more thirsty and probably compounded the problem. In the end I sat on the step of the patio, I couldn't make it up to the decking and panted like a dog after a long run.

Around six it began to cool so I took the opportunity of having a long tepid shower and emerged feeling so much better. After watching the Masterchef final it was time for bed and yet another restless night due to the heat. Now I usually sleep in a light cotton top, as I am terrified of getting my hands tangled in my line and pulling it, but even that had to go. It must have worked though because I woke up this morning around eight under the covers and perfectly refreshed.

I know it sounds weird but I was so pleased to hear the rain thundering down outside. The room was cool and for the first time in days I wasn't pouring with sweat. I took another quick tepid shower and after reading the paper and having a much needed cuppa set about sorting out some suitable clothing for today. I've decided on a crop top and a light long skirt but have also got a light summer dress on standby should this afternoon be a repeat of yesterday. I know I say I can't wear dresses with my pump but my strappy ones allow me to thread the pump and line through the armhole. These are dresses I'd never wear outside though due to them displaying my line entry site.

During my enforced stay in front of the fans yesterday I watched a lot of news and was particularly caught by the current debate on 'assisted dying'.

This is one of those subjects that evoke very strong emotions on both sides of the argument. I have yet to decide which side I fall on but here is what I am currently thinking.

The pro argument is that everyone has a right to do what they wish with their own body. Now while this is very true there has to be some consideration for those who, while not owning your body, have a vested interest in it. Relatives are devastated when someone takes their own life in a suicide. They feel guilty that there was something they didn't or did do to provoke the individual. There will also be anger and shock and of course an intensified grief. Suicide is never dignified, it is usually messy and violent. Even those choosing the (relatively) easy way of an overdose can have a terrible death. Also spare a thought for the poor person who finds the body. Quite often it will be a relative, a small son or daughter, they will have to live with that image for the rest of their lives. Suicide is not brave or romantic it is cowardly and selfish.

Assisted Dying is basically suicide with someones agreement and help. Currently in this country the help comes from a close relative and once the deed is done that relative risks a murder charge and a long prison sentence. True this is rarely the case but they rarely get off scot free and can be ostracised by both family and friends for their compassion.

The pro lobby argue that human beings are treated worse than animals when it comes to ill health and dying. In some ways I agree. The thought of constant un-endurable pain fills me with fear and I am pretty sure in those circumstances I'd do anything to stop it. However if I am in that much pain can I also be of sound mind and capable of making important decisions? I think not.  How can anyone in such circumstances make a cool calm decision, it just doesn't happen. This is going to have to be a decision that a person makes before they get to that stage. Yes I know we already have 'do not resuscitate' directives in hospital but that is an entirely different thing for entirely different circumstances. Otherwise what is to stop a scheming relative or friend from withholding pain relief in order to force the suffers hand?

A bit stormy today
There are a lot of objections to assisted dying, some are on religious grounds, some are on moral grounds and some are from those the proposed bill is designed to help.

I am terminally ill. One day I will become extremely ill and die. That is a fact and cannot be helped. I hope my death will be quick and painless but I can't guarantee it, nor can anyone else. Would I be willing to sign a form to allow a doctor to end my life? I don't know. How can another human being decide when another has had enough of pain, of life? Of course ending my life has crossed my mind, especially during my very darkest days when I am so ill I can't move. However there is always that hope that things will improve and, thank goodness, up to now they always have. If I'd have said 'OK, I've had enough now, let's do it', I would have missed out on so much fun and happiness.

There is one more thing to consider about this bill. If it goes ahead it will only apply to those who have six weeks or less to live. This, supposedly, is to stop greedy relatives knocking off their slightly dotty grand mother's in order to get an early inheritance. Fair enough but what about the people trapped in agony in bodies that no longer work following strokes, road accidents, illness? What about them? In going for the six week option ministers are only considering the physical agony of pain. What about the mental anguish of being stuck in a body unable to move? Or those who are in constant pain from an illness that won't kill them? Because their life is indeterminable their agony will continue and those who attempt to help will still be prosecuted.

Certainly we do need some regulation or law to prevent those who do want to endure to be forced into an option they don't want. However a six week limit is not the answer, nor is allowing doctors to effectively execute a patient on theirs feelings rather than the patient's. A lot of supposedly unconscious patients can still hear what is going on around them. Imagine the horror of listening to that sort of conversation and not being able to do anything about it!

Well there you go, you may or may not agree with anything I've said and even having written it all out I'm still on the fence on this one.

Right off to do a bit of ironing before things start to heat up. Next blog tomorrow.