Get Real

My first year on law review I had to write a comment on an area of law. I chose assisted suicide and whether it should be legal. I researched it from all angles. The slippery slope–we’ll eventually be euthanizing people for a tooth ache. Or for being a ginger. (Would that really be so wrong?) And the flip side of the argument–people with terminal illnesses in excruciating pain or inevitable mental deterioration should be permitted the option to simply die with dignity.

Assisted Suicide by Political Cartoonist Ingrid Rice
Assisted Suicide by Political Cartoonist Ingrid Rice

After all the research, I came down on the side of Dr. Kevorkian, who would later be convicted of second-degree murder in Michigan.

Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have passed legislation making physician-assisted suicide legal. I’m in Texas, so I’m screwed. My state kills lots of people. We’re number one in executions. But we’re not allowed to be assisted by a physician when we’re terminally ill and want to die. There is no right to choose in Texas. And don’t get me started on the recent abortion legislation. Just when I thought the state could not devolve any further. Yes, in Texas we believe strongly in devolution. But evolution? Hell no.

You might be wondering what brought the topic of assisted suicide to mind. My mother has been ill. (Complications from deep vein thrombosis.) Since my last post (almost a month ago!) she spent nearly two weeks in the hospital, two weeks in an acute rehab center, and is now in a SNF (skilled nursing facility). She’s expected to be able to return home with the assistance of a caregiver (not covered by Medicare), occasional visits by an RN (covered), and home therapy (covered). Whether she’ll actually ever leave the SNF (pronounced “sniff”), is uncertain. Whether she’ll again become ambulatory also remains uncertain.

She says if she’s destined to spend the rest of her life bedridden and in pain, she’s checking out. I don’t blame her. But I don’t see how she’ll accomplish this. Which has me pondering how I’ll shuffle off this mortal coil should I decide I’m ready to do so. Currently I’m throwing every dime I can spare into my 401k and moderate risk investments. I’m shopping for long-term health insurance, which Medicare does not cover. I’m considering my options for home care and assistance in managing my finances. I’m planning a trust for the benefit of my cats. (Yes, you can do that.) I’m trying to decide whether pills or an injection is the better option and what kind of drug I’ll want to have stashed away should the time come.

If I’m lucky I’ll remain healthy and active until I keel over from an embolism at age 94. But in my family, it’s more likely to be cancer or Alzheimer’s. Or both. Maybe I should relocate to Seattle.

image I used to be an optimist. But a person can take only so much death and illness before they become a realist.


  • Heavy stuff, glad to see a new post by you nonetheless. Our thoughts for you and your mother. Yes, you’ve had a rough run of things.

    In Massachusetts, voters recently shot down a measure for assisted suicide for the terminally ill. I am sure the language is being revisited for the next general election, as there was worthwhile support on both sides. There is dignity in dying.

    On the lighter side, we hope we don’t go around euthanizing gingers. My publicist is one! xo LMA


  • Sorry to hear this, you certainly have had a lot on your plate. I hope your mother fairs well.

    These are no easy issues to work out and I think our personal views alter over time and circumstances. I recently saw an excellent movie ‘ You don’t know Jack’ about Dr. K. everyone should see it.

    I don’t have much in material wealth but I have a living trust for 2 reasons, because I want to leave a small legacy to an educational facility and to make sure I have that DNR order. Personally speaking paying out today for ‘long-term’ care is a waste of $$…there’s no guarantee you will ever benefit from what you are purchasing today. It’s the same with pre-paid funeral services, a waste of $$ that are needed today.

    Education about these issues is what is important for understanding just what you would or wouldn’t want…it boils down to quality of life. No one knows what they will do until the time comes…and there are so many scary things that await us! Try to stay in the moment, plan as best you can for the future and hope and believe that you will always have what you need when you need it.

    Stay strong and healthy!


    • I’m still studying the long-term care issue, Gert. Thanks for giving me pause. No pre-paid funeral for me. But I might buy a spot for my cremains (and the kitties’) on a man-made reef.

      I am having a hard time staying in the moment. I’m so damn tired. I just want my life back! But I’m sure my mother does, too.


  • Good lord, can your family catch a break? Deaths certainly will make you a realist. I still have a health care directive staring at me from when Grama died. I’m glad you’re able to begin thinking and planning for your own future. But I also hope that you are finding some happiness in the day-to-day. Heavy stuff. How are you dealing with this series of events with your mother?


  • I’m right there with you, but sorry to hear about the downhill turn your mom’s health has made. I question every day why it’s ok to take a cat to the vet when it can’t eat, is incontinent, is no longer enjoying life and has reached the end of its life, but we can’t do the same for humans. We treat our pets better than our elders, in my opinion. Hang in there, I’ve learned over the past year that you can only take something like this day by day.


Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s