An immediate family member last year was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lungs) with an unknown cause to it. It is something that is not curable. As someone who was a daily part of my life it was hard to watch the condition progress.
His condition progressively got worse and he was transferred to a palativcare physicality a couple of weeks ago. He wasn’t happy living the way he was living and slowly dying. The doctors discussed with him the option of assisted death… something he did not know about, and myself I thought was still not finalized in Canada yet, so it was a surprise to hear this.
After a long discussion with the family and doctors, he signed the papers a week ago to start the process. He wanted to end his life and do away with the suffering and the suffering to come.
So yesterday (Saturday) afternoon was the scheduled day for this to happen. The day started like any other for him… he was very upbeat, laughing, and smiling. All of his close love ones we’re around that morning. We spent hours talking, playing crib, and going through some old memories.
Around 2PM the doctors came into the room, I almost fainted once it dawned on me that it was time – I felt dizzy but I stuck through it. It was even harder to see my kids go through the emotions of it.
What I’m about to describe from here-on-out is very surreal… the doctors sat down next to him in the chair and asked if he was ready to begin the process. He instantly said he was. The doctors then put two ports into his veins, gave him a relaxant and made his recliner comfortable. She explained the first needle he would get would be a heavy anesthesia, which would take him under within seconds, a second needle to numb any pain because the rest of the needles would be nerve-killing, and without it, he would feel a burning sensation. She explained to him it would be just like falling asleep. They then left the room and told us we had as much time as we needed before they would begin.
We all said our goodbyes and shared some final moments through his tears and ours. We agreed we didn’t want to prolong the process and make it any harder, so he had the doctors come back in about 2:30PM.
They carried in roughly 8 needles and laid them on the table next to him. We all stood around him and held his hands. The doctor sat next to him again and put the first needle into the port and asked him if he was sure he still wanted to go ahead with this process.
He said “Yes my love, do it” – my mind was racing when he said this, a rollercoaster of emotions came over me as he grabbed our hands tight and the doctor pushed the needle in. Within seconds you could see his expression change to a relaxing state, he started to mumble some stuff about where he lived… the doctor told us this is the needle kicking in. She then pushed in the second needle right after and he was still grabbing our hands. She then pumped in the remaining milk-looking needles (which I assume was for the nerves). His grip got a little loose, he closed his eyes, and his breathing slowed down. I can’t fathom the time this took… it was like everything was a standstill, but it seemed about 30 seconds, and his breathing and heart then stopped and it was over.
It tears me up writing this out today but I wanted to share my experience going through it and get awareness out there for this option, if any of your family members are terminally-ill, this is an option for them. I have so much respect for the bravery it takes for someone to go through this process – to sit there and have your life taken away, it takes a special kind of person.
I want to thank this great above-and-beyond civilized country for having this option available to him yesterday and I hope my story can help ease some minds about what the process involves. Its truly peaceful for the patient to go through.