Thursday, May 10, 2018

Making our own choices about life and death

First, NO ONE WORRY! I am not suicidal. I've just been around a lot of people at end or near the end of life and I just experienced a life changing event that has me thinking about life and death and illness. Then just today I saw this article that has me thinking more.

On the day of stroke, I got admitted to the hospital the same day my mostly estranged mom got taken to the hospital for what we thought was a stroke. There is no history of stroke in my family, so it that was so weird timing. Turns out my mom did not have a stroke, but she was incredibly confused. After many tests and screenings - while I was dealing with my own medical emergency, we learned that my mom couldn't be released as they suspected dementia. Days and events later, we learn that my mom at 70 years old has Alzheimer's disease and it was probably caused by years of poorly controlled diabetes.

Add this all up as you can image a whole lot of thought was happening about my own battles and my own future.

Also, I live with an 82 year old woman, my mother in law. She is a psychiatrist and a neurologist. So, than means she knows exactly what is gone on with me my brain. She knows details... but  she couldn't help Sven while I was in the hospital because she doesn't know where to find things in the kitchen or how to prepare meals. She wanted to be helpful, but she doesn't know how to be helpful in tasks anymore. Her world is very small. She knows how to drive to and from our house, the mall a mile from us, and her doctor's office. She doesn't cook, she doesn't load the washer or dryer, nor does she do anything outside of this. This woman who is very intelligent and skilled is a shell of her former intellectual self.

For all my adult life I have been pretty clear about my thoughts on death and dying. Being able to choose my own timing of death, if allowed by law is really, really important to me. I don't think I should be able to have a voice in any one else's end of life decisions, but mine should be MY choice - Period.

So today I read this article that is basically saying my thoughts.... if I don't feel life is worth living any more - whatever and whenever that is, and I can pass the mental health criteria, I should be allowed to die.

I've had time to think of this because I could have died from this stroke. I could have survived, but wished I hadn't. Again... what is considered "livable" is so individual, like that doctor said in this article, he chose where his line in the sand was for what was he considered tolerable living and what wasn't. 

It gets so tricky when it's declining mental capabilities. The doctor in this article was mentally "there". Look at his sweatshirt - Aging Disgracefully - his mind was there, it's the rest of his body has given out. My mother in law has said since I've known her that she would rather die than lose her mental abilities, but she no longer is aware of her decline. Possibly, if she were to travel back in time to see where she would be  at 82, she might have decided to end it... or maybe not. She enjoys meeting with her friends, having dinner with us, watching her tv shows and experiencing life. Isn't that a life worth living?

I just hope I have a choice. Not to die prematurely and to enjoy my life until I don't find it enjoyable any longer.

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