Open Air

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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.

http://www.news957.com/audio/the-rick-howe-show/

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.

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6 thoughts on “Open Air

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  1. It took me a day to get the nerve to listen to that, and I was blown away by your voices. Your physical voice was so clear, so honest, so matter of fact, and with a touch of insouciant cheer. Your inner voice came through loud and clear, and in a strange way, it was very reassuring. I thought you handled it better than the man who was interviewing you. He was clearly at a loss in how to deal with you, what to say, and you were so honest, so gutsy, and irrepressible. I did really relate to you talking about the importance of humor. My husband and I have been married for a very long time, and humor is one of the glues that binds us together. He had a stroke four years ago, and was diagnosed with dementia a year after that. Fortunately, he is still himself more often than not, and he still has a delightfully strange sense of humor. There are days where nothing is funny, and then there are days when we can say stupid things and laugh about it. Today was one of those days. We giggled off and on, and it was a wonderful gift.

    I have never been comfortable with the idea of suicide, and it isn’t something I would choose for myself, but you sounded so clear and rational, so honest, that I could see why someone might choose that option. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, or next week, or five years from now, I want to celebrate the life of a ballsy chick who makes me think, and makes me laugh. That is what friends are for, and you are the best friend I’ve never actually met. I am going to read some of your older posts, and I am going to savor every new one, and I am going to count myself fortunate to be here.

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  2. I am struggling to find the right words to reply Jamie, I have so many thoughts in my head at reading your comment.
    Laughter-I’m glad you have it with your husband as well, and I’m so sorry about his dementia. That, and your son’s Parkinsons, really is unfair for one family. Laughter has a way of bubbling up through the cracks of despair, and buoying our souls. And it IS a wonderful gift.
    “Ballsy chick”, I like that. I hope I can live up to your expectations. My heart is full (I’m saying that a lot lately) and I’m comforted and humbled by your words. Your own writing is honest and direct, do you write anywhere else that I can read?
    XO

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  3. I actually did have a blog going for several years. When my husband became ill, I stopped writing, and I stopped doing a lot of things. I am trying to write again, but for some odd reason I keep getting kicked out of my site. It doesn’t recognize my password, so I change it, and then it doesn’t recognize that either. Maddening! I will have to have one of my tech savvy sons fix it for me. You should be able to read it though. It starts with the most recent posts and then you have to work your way backwards. I will warn you that I am not PC, and I mention God from time to time, and sometimes, even get into eschatology, but mostly it was me amusing myself. So you have been warned! If you are still interested, it is igiraffe.dreamusher.com. Personally, I like the oldest posts the best, and for some odd reason the posts that I found hilarious were not seen that way by others. The ones I disliked were the ones that other people liked. So I am either ahead or behind everyone else. My kids would say behind.

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    1. I have JUST now read your most recent post and am looking forward to working my way back. Your writing is remarkable, and I sense a kindred writing spirit. If I may indulge in a bit of self-flattery, it’s like reading into a mirror in ways.
      Please, please get your sons cracking on getting you back into your blog so you can pick it up again.

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