(As a note, I know people tread carefully to be sensitive with my loss, and I appreciate that. But I am doing well, thanks to Jesus. I am very open to answering questions, and it takes a lot to offend me, so please….ask away!)
As you know, I’ve seen the process of someone dying from a Glioblastoma. One word to describe it? Horrific. When Clint’s surgeon told me it was going to be a long difficult road, I had no idea how right he was.
Knowing we were going to lose Clint to this horrible disease was really difficult to process. Living out his last days knowing that he was only going to get worse and experience more pain was hard to swallow. We chose to use Providence Hospice to keep him comfortable, and they were magnificent. Hospice was designed for a reason, and they were such advocates for us. I appreciated the open access to whatever pain medications (and other medications) were needed, and the lack of roadblocks to keep Clint’s pain managed.
Even with Hospice, however, I remember getting to a point where I looked at my crippled husband, who was no longer capable of moving or expressing himself, and thinking, “I can totally understand why someone would choose Death with Dignity.”
Here is why I thought that: (****WARNING****GRAPHIC CONTENT*****)
Have you ever witnessed someone having a seizure? I have….and it gave me nightmares. Imagine seeing someone in full conversation suddenly start to stutter. Imagine their voice getting so loud and uncontrollable in the noises it was making. Now imagine the terrified look on their face as they cannot control their movements. Imagine watching your loved one falling to the ground and sustaining a head injury while convulsing. Their mouth is foaming. They sound like they are in pain. Seizures ARE painful. Seizures can also cause brain damage. It’s ignorant to think anyone could live with them and be fine. Often times, seizures will wipe a person out for an entire day, and it takes a long time to recover speech and clear thought afterwards. Thank God for seizure medications, but with Glioblastoma ravaging the brain, they are not guaranteed to work. My husband had seizures despite the medications.
Now, imagine watching the process of someone losing their mind – literally going insane. My precious husband could not think logically after a while, and it got continually worse. The sad part was watching him do something that he understood did not make sense, and it shamed him. For example, Clint knew that the kitchen cupboards were not the toilet, yet he could not help but urinate there. It was humiliating for him, and it broke my heart. (I have so much respect for my husband….he really finished his race with dignity, despite all the embarrassing details). We realized we could not drive him anywhere anymore when he tried to get out of the car while we were driving on the freeway. He could not understand my panic in trying to keep him in the car, and his laugh of insanity really frightened me. (I’m not being dramatic here – that is literally what happened.)
Imagine dealing with the rage that Glioblastoma causes. People get violent as this disease eats away their brain. This is especially difficult to deal with when there is a child in the house (our daughter stayed with my mom during this time). Clint was so frustrated with every day changes and he could not control his anger. We had to keep him very sedated.
Imagine watching your loved one losing functions every day. Clint was a strong and active young man. He became weaker and weaker as the weeks went on. He started needing the use of a walker, then eventually a wheelchair. At the end, he could not be moved from the hospital bed that Hospice brought in - he was paralyzed. Clint was always loud and expressive, and deteriorated with the inability to speak or express himself, which I know was very frustrating for him.
Imagine having to help your loved one with incontinence issues and bathing. Enough said.
The pain at the end was excruciating, and even with the meds from hospice, we had a hard time keeping on top of pain management. His neck muscles eventually locked up with his head leaning to his right side. He could not move it. His jaw became clenched shut and he developed thrush in his mouth. The only way I could tell he was in pain was when his face turned red (and that was pain experienced despite the morphine and methadone). Clint suffered greatly.
Now imagine watching your loved one die, gasping for air because their body is too weak to keep breathing.
(*****END OF GRAPHIC CONTENT******)
The Controversial Question can provoke a lot of judgment from both sides, but here’s something to think about:
Would anyone judge the poor people who jumped from the twin towers on 9/11, as it was the only escape from dying in the massive fires? They were faced with two options for death: Burning vs. Falling. What would you choose? Is it much different when someone is faced with a disease as deadly and horrific as a Glioblastoma – when all options for treatment are off the table? I’ve read some comments online claiming that no one should play God and take a life – and for the most part, I agree. However, Cancer was never God’s plan for us! When a Glioblastoma becomes inoperable and untreatable, it is like being in the burning tower on 9/11. I do not know how God will judge this situation in the end, but I know my God is merciful, and He understands all that we face, and He walks through it with us. He even weeps with us when we weep!
So what do I think about assisted suicide? From a religious standpoint, I do not agree with it, and I do not condone it. I think it can be a very slippery slope. Life is sacred from conception to death. However, I can certainly understand why someone would choose it, and I am not their Judge.
With that being said, I want to acknowledge the bravery of surrender that Brittany Maynard’s family has shown. I am so sorry they had to walk through that nightmare, and I offer them my sincerest prayers for healing as they grieve the loss of someone so precious.
With much love,