[See below for the latest Alex and Ronni Show in which we chatter on about cats, hospice, medical workers, the virus, New York subways, a little bit of Trump, New Yorkers' attitude. Early in the video I mention that if we had not divorced, we would now have been married 65 years. Uh, that would be 55 years. So much for my on-the-spot math skills.]
Death With Dignity Act (DWDA) is the formal name of the law that allows terminally ill Oregon adults to end their lives by administering to themselves a dose of lethal medication.
My doctors refer to this as Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) which I much prefer to the state's name.
On Wednesday this week, I spent 15 or 20 minutes with the physician who manages this program at the medical center where I have been treated for cancer and COPD for the past three years.
We had spoken at length some weeks ago, so I was familiar with the law, with the details of how it works and what happens when a patient takes the drug.
This time, the doctor went over the legal requirements again, asked me the formal, verbal questions the state requires, and then emailed an official form entitled, “Request for Medication To End My Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner.”
You can see that document online here (pdf).
For such a monumental decision, it's not much of a form. Just a few declarations on my part and the signatures of two witnesses.
None of this is new to me. I've written about MAID in general over the years in these pages. I've known since years before my cancer diagnosis that I prefer this way of death to lingering beyond the time when I can enjoy daily life and/or care for myself.
Still, when I printed out the form on Wednesday and read through it on not just an ephemeral screen of pixels but solid paper, I felt a mild chill on the back of my neck and down my spine. I got light-headed for a minute or so.
A goodly part of me says that it is one thing to die on the universe's time frame and quite another to choose one's own time. Some call that suicide and they are not wrong.
That charge, however, doesn't resonate with me. The facile response is, “Hey, it's my life” but many of the world's religions condemn suicide, and the restraints against it are ancient. They can't be ignored by any thinking person, even someone like me who at best is agnostic but much closer to atheist.
Which doesn't mean I don't take seriously the many admonitions against suicide from learned people through the millennia. For a large part of my life, suicide was so taboo in American culture that relatives often hid the truth when a family member took his or her life.
Life is precious and as I mentioned a few days ago, I am so sad to be leaving Earth. But I am also a realist and I have made this choice. I expect to be comfortable with it when the time comes, but nothing says I can't change my mind if it comes to that.
In October 2018, when I had just been told there was no more useful treatment for my cancer, I wrote this about being terminally ill:
”For as long as I can remember, I have been curious about dying. When I have explained myself through the years, I've said that I want to be awake, lucid, not drugged or in pain because I want to experience the event of dying as clearly as possible. It is the last great mystery of life and I don't want to miss it.”
But now a monkey wrench has been thrown into the plan. If/when I use the MAID drugs, I will go into a coma within a few minutes. It is unlikely in that state that I will experience dying in the way I anticipated. Damn.
Roseanne Roseannadanna was right, “It's always something.”
Here's this week's episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.
You can check out Alex's online talk show here.