DIGNITY

Posted: January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

​Reprinted from my friend Susan Marques Booth

Dear Utah Legislature, 

Being involved at the end of a person’s life is a unique part of the human experience. It’s highly emotionally charged, because watching someone you love so much suffer, is difficult. My father’s been dying for about a year now. We’ve had the roller coaster of emotions. One minute we’ve been hopeful and positive about my father’s future only to have those very hopes dashed as another tumor grows. 
My dad’s cancer, head and neck cancer, is horrific to see. It not only grows on the inside of your body, but also on the outside. It’s wild, because the thing that is killing him is so very alive and visible. It’s like rockets are shooting out of his neck and shoulder. The right side of his incredibly handsome face is bizarrely distorted, weirdly triangular with large tumors wanting to burst through, right under his eye. His beautiful smile is gone as all of his top teeth had to be taken out and tumors have begun their takeover of his mouth. Despite all of this, he somehow managed to make fun of me and shared my embarrassing experience of trying to use a large industrial buffer, losing control of it and breaking the handle, with everyone. In fact, the last words he shared with me before he drifted off in his drug induced sleep last night was, “Remember when you used the machine?” I wonder if that will be his final memory of me… It was pretty funny.
Hospice has us giving him pain medications every 45 minutes. Yes – EVERY 45 minutes. I wonder if they think that we’re fucking stupid. They have essentially told us, (without telling us), that it’s our job to make sure that he’s too tired to eat or drink. When you don’t eat or drink your kidneys shut down, you go into a coma and you die. They have put the responsibility into our hands which I think is truly unfair, especially for my mom, his main caretaker. My mom will always do what the doctors tell her to do. The dose will be the right amount and it will be delivered as per instructions. My question for the Utah Legislature is this: How is this better, or more “moral” or “ethical”, than allowing my father to choose which day to end his life? That fact of the matter is, although hospice creates an avenue to lessen pain and suffering while someone is dying, they ARE assisting in the progression of the process. Don’t give into cognitive dissonance here. We ARE helping my father to die. Why is that more acceptable than empowering an individual to choose to die on their own terms, when they want to, when there is zero chance of a recovery? The interference of religion in the legislative process needs to be removed. It’s pretty simple, if your faith believes that suicide is some sort of unforgivable sin, by all means, do not participate in it. That’s not our belief. If you want us to respect your beliefs, which we do, please respect ours. My dad deserved the ability to die on his own terms. Now, he’s dying on YOUR terms, but make no mistake – he’s going to die. You’ve prolonged his agony, misery, suffering and pain. You’ve prolonged ours as well. 
Susan Booth

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