Bud Mayer, one of the people I profile in this week's story on the new Death with Dignity Act, sent me an e-mail that updated me on his condition. He writes poignantly of what it feels like to think this could be "IT." Despite his opposition to physician-assisted suicide, he says he now knows what it might feel like to want to end it all.
I've been having much more frequent episodes of angina lately
(five, yesterday alone) that seemed to respond to the usual
nitroglycerine tablets fairly well, and then last night, after Heidi
had gone to sleep, I had what felt like the "really big" one - far more
painful and persistent and spreading around in my arms, jaw, hands,
chest, etc., that unavoidably caused me to wonder if this was "IT".
After much nitro, followed by four or five doses of oxycodone and then
oxycontin, without any improvement at all, I reflected on our
discussions of physician-assisted suicide, and could see how one could
opt for that 'out' in the midst of such an episode. In perhaps a half
hour, however, after the climactic surge of pain, it started to lessen
somewhat. You want so much for it to go away that you can't even be
sure, when it starts to lessen, whether the lessening is real or just a
massive exercise in wishful thinking, and for a while can't trust it.
I could see how an old, frail, lonely person could wish, at least
momentarily, for the release of death, but realized that, even had it
been handy in the form of a bunch of pills (or a pistol? Which I have!)
I would not do it. Not out of fear at all, but because I think it is
wrong. And not out of religious convictions alone or the remaining
hope, however small, that this 'bad' would surely stop, sooner or
later, which in fact it finally did. I was exhausted and thoroughly
whipped, but finally fell asleep knowing for sure that it might well be
for the last time.
This morning, in response to her "Howdy!" I
woke up with both of the little dogs on my hospital bed here in the
living room, a little surprised and a little awe-struck by having been
given another day. My little sharp, energetic, bright Filipina nurse
is due this morning on her regular visit, and we will quietly
celebrate, at least in words, this latest small triumph. I continue to
think there's gotta be a reason for it, and will try to find that, and