El Loco Surgido
"El Loco Rises"
Updated December 28, 2022
End Of Life
I love the abbreviation EOL, which means "End Of Life," as a euphemism for "The Big D," or "Death," or "The End Of It All," or whatever tickles your fancy. It somewhat avoids facing the reality of it all ending. Much of what we see in our society seeks to avoid the ultimate consequences and ultimately reality of living, which is likely a good thing. Or maybe not.
I continue to grapple with this, and most religions are a response to the innate need for us as humans to confront this somewhat terrifying final place after this place that we call Earth. Most religions respond to this human need by providing context in the form of an afterlife, defined in many ways, depending on the religion. This is likely a good thing, although denial of the reality of death can sometimes prevent us from experiencing a useful interaction in confronting the meaning of our lives.
We each, sometimes as individuals, and often collectively, seek to avoid the dark spaces that can arise, and we each confront these (or do not confront these) as best we can, yet I submit there is much to be learned by grappling with all this while alive, sentient, and interacting with other planetary lifeforms, in order to live a more fully vibrant and meaningful life. I am definitely not a theologist, have no useful answers, and we all struggle and grapple with this in our own ways. The end is the same, but the journey towards that end is the most important part, to me, as that is where I now find myself.
I fully acknowledge that I do not know the answers. and perhaps the old saying is applicable here:
"There is no answer; there never has been an answer; there will never be an answer; that is the answer." But that is sort of a "cop-out" and does not lead to satisfaction.
Recently, Liz and I met with a local physician in our home (yes, a house call) and discussed various EOL options, which is his specialty (most likely the only one in this region). I was quite impressed with his depth of knowledge, his intelligence, and his openness, and we discussed options for when "the time comes." After much discussion, it seems as if VSED ("voluntary stopping eating and drinking) is the best method. It is simple: Stop eating and drinking, completely, and it can take six up to ten days for the desired result to be produced. Nothing is introduced into the patient, there need be no medical intervention to avoid liability issues, and the patient is primarily in bed at home starting early on.
I had read of this method in other sources, and it is gaining popularity. Rather than ingesting drugs, such as barbiturates, this involves no specific action by anyone, is legal, and has 100% effectiveness. What's not to like?
Apparently hunger or thirst is not a major issue, as those desires rapidly depart the patient, and it is always terminal provided the patient does not cheat. We discussed all my concerns and questions, and other than the fear of pain and hunger, there are no downsides other than the obvious one.
We know of a physician has a practice consisting primary of EOL patients, is an acknowledged expert, is expensive (though not so much when compared with normal hospital rates), and it seems to be likely the way to go. The chance of remission with my disease is zero percent, so what's not to like (again)? So we are considering this, while waiting for the miracle that will never come.
The unanswered question that determines the ultimate outcome is: Do I have the courage and drive to do this?
I am adding this on December 28, 2022, to conclude the discussion above, and which summarizes my wishes and desires for the future:
I have always been somewhat puzzled that government presumes to mandate what a singular conscious aware person does with his or her own body. Religious scruples aside - which to me is separate from the state, or should be - why does not a person have autonomy over his own being and body, providing no one else is damaged? I suppose I never will understand that, and will continue to maintain that what I do with my own body is solely my decision, and not the province of some quasi-religious statist who presume to tell me what to do, if it does not damage others.
I have decided in consultation with Liz and one of my doctors that "Voluntary Withholding of Food and Drink" is at this time my preferred method for EOL. I have decided that this is my preferred method as long as I do not suffer significant pain and suffering and am sedated during the process. We will be making a video documenting these wishes and that I wish to be sedated throughout this process for minimal pain and suffering. I also reserve the right to change this decision if and when appropriate as determined by me in consultation with Liz Dunn.
I am adding this addendum on December 28, 2022, to indicate that I no longer prefer the withholding of Food and Drink option above; I would like it to be quick, effective, and final. We do not agree on that, and I do not know how this will be resolved. In intend to prevail, since it is my life.
Stand by for breaking news, should we all live that long.
Santa Fe, New Mexico