Shortly after I posted my ALS diagnosis I received an email from a radio talk show host back in Halifax, asking if I would like to be on the show today, weighing in on physician assisted suicide.
I’ve linked to the interview below. It turned out to be much, much more personal than I expected; I expected to gloss over my own diagnosis and then speak to the bill, and the fact the Senate came through with a contentious amendment late last night. Instead, I felt a little like an orange being peeled-no, an onion, because my skin feels so thin and brittle right now. And as the host asked more intimate questions, I kept answering, formulating coherent thoughts that I hadn’t been able to in the past few days.
It’s a hot topic right now, with our newly-elected government having campaigned on the issue and promising to get it resolved, and the bill is currently being debated in our Senate. I’m going to spare you all the politics here, because that’s not my thing. It wasn’t an issue that I was overly concerned with in the last election, but of course that’s changed.
Physician-assisted suicide is a tremendously complex issue, fraught with not only legalities but moral and ethical concerns, from points of view of patients and medical practitioners. My own viewpoint is pretty focused right now, and what I’m about to share may read as simplistic; at some point I may write more about it but this minute, in this now, is how I’m managing.
In 1994, Sue Rodriguez was in the news; she, like me, had ALS and was ready to be done with it. Her fight was over. I remember watching this and being horrified that she did not have a choice, there was nobody to assist her end her life peacefully. That denial of dignity, that denial of choice, seemed so much against everything being a Canadian with all our inherent right and freedoms means, it resonated and had a profound impact on me. And the thoughts that 26 years later, nothing has changed?
I don’t know if I’m going to chose my time. I don’t know because I’m not there yet. I still have to find a way to live, yes, still looking for that answer and then maybe tackle that question. Or add it to my list.
Will I, in the words of Dylan Thomas, rage against the dying of the light? Or go gently into that good night? I don’t know, because I’m not there yet. What I do know is that I want the choice.