Friday, June 01, 2007

Dr Kevorkian

Dr Jack Kevorkian spent 8 years in jail for helping people end their suffering. Some people say he deserved the 2nd degree murder conviction, but I do not. I watched my grandmother die slowly and painful, pumped full of morphine, and still in pain. She was terminally ill. She had cancer. She had cancer in her bones. She had cancer in her lungs. It wasn't really the cancer that killed her, because not only were her lungs full of cancerous tissue, but also full of fluid, the fluid that slowed drowned her. We were told that she passed in her sleep. She drowned in her sleep is what happened.

I used to visit her every Sunday. I would have stopped a long time ago, but the visits from us, and particularly from Miranda, really lifted her spirits. The last time I saw her, she had begged me to help her. She said she was in pain, it hurt, and would I please help her. I asked, Baba, what do you need me to help you with? She then repeated, It hurts. The next time I saw her was at her funeral. I couldn't go back to visit her. I let my Mum take Miranda to visit. As a child, I had never seen illness and suffering like that and I guess in a way I wanted Miranda to see it so she would be able to deal with it better later in life. Me, I have been out of the country when my grandfather and great-baba died, so I haven't had to deal with death until Baba, and it took me more than a year to really be able to deal with it.

The largest issue I had was to see how fast a human can deteriorate, and the lengths that the medical profession goes through in order to keep a patient hanging on. To what end? My Baba was confined to a hospital bed, maybe the odd push in a wheel chair. Where is the life in that. Sitting and waiting for the inevitable. Pumped full of drugs until she can no longer distinguish who is her daughter and who is her granddaughter. Even now it makes me so full of rage, the tears are pooling in my eyes, when I think about how she was treated.

I bought Miranda a kitten. The kitten was sick. She had feline leukemia. She had fluid in her lungs. What did we do? We ended her suffering and had her put to sleep. We did what the vet said was the humane thing to do. We treat animals better than we treat our own species! We allow animals more compassion and dignity than we do our loved ones! When my Baba's old dog was having strokes persistently, and when he was losing the use of his legs, she did the humane thing and had him put down. My Baba couldn't walk and "we" said, oh look, a nice chair for you to sit in!

On the day I last visited her, when she begged me to help her, I was scared. I was scared that when I asked her what she needed help with, that she would ask me to help her die. Would I have? Probably not, because I didn't want to go to jail! Did I want to, yes! I wanted to do something to help end her pain and suffering, and if she wanted the lights to go out then and there, I would not have held that against her.

I hope if I am ever in her position, that someone will show me love and compassion and help speed up the dying process. I hope that I can have a Dr Kevorkian at my bedside. He is famous for his quotation, dying is not a crime, and it shouldn't be, yet we make it a crime, and then why are we not punished when we help other animals die?

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