A patient discusses her decision to seek Medical Assistance In Dying

A patient discusses her decision to seek Medical Assistance In Dying


Well, thank you very much for talking with
me today. Before we start, I would like to warn you
that the last two chemo I had badly affected my eyes. So it may look like I’m crying, but I’m
not necessarily. Can we actually start off by you just telling
me a little bit about yourself? Yeah, I’m 82 years old, and I was teaching
350 Symbolic Logic students at U of T as recently as last April. What is your personal situation? I’m unmarried. I was in the convent for many years, so that
when I came to do my PhD here. It was the time when the church was in great
upheaval. A lot of my friends from my group in the convent
were leaving. I realized that
I had a little different value than they did, so I left the order and devoted myself to
study and teaching, which proved to be… I taught till 82, so it proved to be a very
rewarding career. I’m in philosophy department with so we have
bioethics classes. So I knew my options right away. If I had a family member I would defer to
their wishes. I know sometimes it’s hard for a family to
let someone go, but I have no family at all. My parents died. I’m 82 and… So you feel as a personal decision It’s a personal decision. I hope you understand what I’m going to say. The options that are available don’t fit me. I could have long term palliative care, where
the end would be the same – I would die. I could have sedation and sleep, but the one
thing that I so value about MAID is I can leave with my cognitive faculties. And that matters a great deal to me. I find them slipping out. You know, my friend said, oh everyone forgets. But there are things I saw with much more
clarity, and so MAID seems the perfect option. I’m not depressed. I’m not anxious I feel lucky, Doctor. Your cognitive abilities might be one of the
things you value most about yourself. The part of me that I had spent most time
trying to develop is of course my mind. And it’s really…I want to say with full
consent. But you know, going into palliative care,
every morning little increments of my person are gone. I’ve been, I mean I won’t rattle off the
side effects, but, you know, things that are important for daily living, I can no longer
do. I can’t control my tears, you know. People walk in, and I think I know that person. But I… I’m losing it in small increment, and it seems
to me since the end is the same, you know, this is the perfect opportunity. When you look back, I have a sense of some
things you are proud of. Your work particularly stands out. Are there regrets? Yes, yes, there are. The last time my mother visited me in Toronto… I was a grad student. She would help me financially. I never got the opportunity. It was always there as a subtext that everything
I did. But I never got the opportunity to really
openly not just leave it as a tacitly understood thing – how deeply I appreciated her and that
was the last time I saw her. I have an impression that you’re somewhat
of a private, independent person. I am and
these six months were not just taxing on my friends, but on me. I had to ask for things. That was a new humbling experience, but it
made me really aware the human condition. We need each other badly. And, you know, asking was most difficult. How did the idea for MAID come out? When the law passed, I wasn’t ready. But I thought, I remember Dr. Lowe, remember
from the SARS condition. I remember
him saying they do it for animals, and not for humans. He made a tremendous contribution. I’m so honoured to think that one of the doctors
involved in giving MAID was a friend of his. Really, you know, he was a remarkable man. Did you have any reservations about MAID? No. What about the religious..? Oh well, you know, I’m not sure. I think I’m agnostic. It would be lovely if I could flutter around
and take care of my friends. But, you know, doing philosophy as I said,
current theories of mind and cognition are all materialistic. I think it’s probably the end of me, but how
many 82 year-olds had such a good life, doctor? You feel satisfied with your life? Absolutely, I feel fortunate. For someone else who is in your situation,
who hadn’t made such a decision, would you have any advice for them? Absolutely, absolutely not. I would absolutely not. I think it’s a highly personal choice, and
no, this is a professor who will give no advice on that at all. You know, I would let them talk, but I would… Each person’s situation is so different,
do you mean? I do, I (have) no family, no ties This is being contemplated, as I understand
in about 5 or 6 days or something like that? Yes, I believe it’s going to happen the day
after Thanksgiving. Do you have any wishes between now and then? Well, you know the doctors involved in it. said I can have any music I want, anything
I want, you know, what kind of clothes do I want to wear. It might be a reflection on my temperament. I want it as simple and as small possible,
so I’m going to have it, I hope they’ll lend me a hospital gown, and I’m going to
have that close network of friends. They will be here at the time? They will be here. I’ve invited my GP who has always
supported my decision to come to Princess Margaret, has carefully laid out my options,
and everything. Is there anything you want to mention to me
that we haven’t talked about, anything that might be important? I want to reiterate something. It’s really a pleasure to meet you, and I
am so lucky with the compassion and intelligence that I’ve met among the staff. I think it takes a special temperament to
deal with palliative care, and they’re all ages here. One of the volunteers who comes in to do grunt
jobs said to me her nine-year-old son died here and she wants to be here. You know some of these are young women who
could do anything. I think it takes a special temperament, and
I feel really privileged. It has been a privilege to talk to you actually. And to you and to finally meet you, doctor. Thank you so much for coming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *