There are so many things we obsess about. We seem to have a need to get things right. Should we bring a bottle of wine or some flowers to the party? Will jeans and my new boots work or is that too casual? How do I find a new mate?
We do NOT talk much about how we die. Yet facing death is thoroughly interesting and absorbing and challenging. I have choices which I have reviewed, and either adopted or discarded. I think I have hit upon the right choice for me.
I have talked it over with friends and relatives. It is not a forbidden topic. Anything but.
Every day I lose bits of myself, and it's obvious that I am heading towards the state that all dementia patients eventually get to: not knowing who I am and requiring full-time care. I know as I write these words that within six months or nine months or twelve months, I, Gillian, will no longer be here. What is to be done with my carcass? It will be physically alive but there will be no one inside.
I have done my homework. I have reviewed my options:
- Have a minder care for my mindless body. This would involve financial hardship for those I leave behind, or involve them in a seemingly endless round of chores that could erode even their fondest memories of me.
- Request whatever care the government is willing to provide. (The facility will expect my husband, children, grandchildren, to visit often to thank the caretakers for how well they are looking after the carcass. Fair enough, but not what I wish for my family.)
- End my own life by taking adequate barbiturates to do the job before my mind has totally gone. Ethically, this seems to me the right thing to do.
I can live or vegetate for perhaps ten years in hospital at Canada's expense, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 per year. That is only the beginning of the damage. Nurses, who thought they were embarked on a career that had great meaning, find themselves perpetually changing my diapers and reporting on the physical changes of an empty husk. It is ludicrous, wasteful and unfair.
My family, all of whom are rational and funny to boot, would not visit me in hospital, because they know I would not want them to.