March 21st Mark’s Title – Fun
Two amazing experiences. One on March 19th was very sad. You may have read about Anna Campbell – the daughter of Dirk Campbell, a good friend of ours and amazing musician who played in Villa Events in Grange Road. Anna died last week in Syria, working alongside women who supported the Kurdish forces. Her transport was targeted by the Turks and her body remains somewhere in Afrin, unable to be recovered. We went to the memorial meeting on a freezing night on Cliffe Bridge and it was very moving.
Yesterday I went to Jeremy for the lastest acupuncture session before he goes on holiday. Jeremy always asks how I feel and this time I said my gut and stomach had been upset for weeks – in Shakespeare’s terms it caused the ‘ague’. He put 2 needles in my belly and an hour later all the ague had gone and still not returned today. Acupuncture is a winner and how lovely to wake up this morning to another of Seaford’s cloudless, blue skies, with boats going out to the wind farms and to fish, and the shingle movers maybe bringing this 5 week session to an end.
From Jenny 2 sides of a coin
Mark is looking fitter and fatter than he has done in weeks, and his face has a suntanned glow from who knows what. I’ve been able to spend normal time in Lewes and we plan to go to Wimbledon at the weekend as the flat should be ready after its refurbishment.
Meantime I have boxed up my ‘Just in case’ collection of medicine and instructions which are given to carers of people who are terminally ill. The pharmacist asked if I knew what to do with the stuff and seeing my puzzled face, said I needed a medically trained person to administer them. ‘Where do I magic that person from?’ was my reply – I left off the f… word.. It seems I dial 999 and the magicians will come.
Good old Google helps me out again. The Just in Case box was developed because professional help and the medicines were often not available beyond normal working hours, Monday to Friday and this led to ‘feelings of anxiety heightened in patients and carers.’ Bloody right it does. Weekends are a bugger. ‘Fewer surgeries are open on Saturdays and GPs can opt out of out-of-hours care.’ Our surgery phone line says ring 111. I tried it one night and would have got more help from a dead cat.
So now I’ve got a toxic mix of diamorphine, midazolam, cyclizine and glycopyrronium – and some phials of water. But it’s not for me to use or learn to spell – I just need Mervin the magician to come with a syringe when I wave a magic wand.
I feel we all need to address the issue of dying with dignity and like the C word, assisted dying has been in the news. In the Sunday Times Professor Paul Cosford explained about his choice in end of life care as he has incurable lung and liver cancer. He says he would like a quiet chat with his GP when his time is nearly up and ask for medication to make it easier when the time comes.
His challenging talk to The Royal Society of Medicine is on this link
These are some parts that mean a lot to me from Paul –
‘I wanted to explore two things to have some control at the time if I need it.
- I don’t want to die with someone jumping up and down on my chest. (Jenny’s note – The form to prevent this must be done by a medical professional and not the carer or patient – we’ve got one! It says ‘Allow a natural death’)
- At the point that all my reasonable treatment options run out, and if it all is too much for me, I will have the wherewithal to bring things to a conclusion myself. My thinking was that, if I know that there will be an option that gives me some control, I don’t need to worry now about what might happen at that time.
We need to be much more open about how we help each other to die well. My experience is that I can live much better now if I do face this issue well in advance.
Heidegger the philosopher says “If I take death into my life, acknowledge it and face it squarely I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.”
What I want is that the last gift I can give to my family and those closest to me to be that they can say “he died well, and that came at the end of a life in which he made a difference to those around him – he lived well too.” I hope that this afternoon will be a step on the way to making this a reality for more of us than is currently the case.’
His words have really helped me to know that others don’t want to live in LaLa land but want to consider the serious options ahead and have some control.
The other leaflet in The Sunday Times was the Campaign for Dignity in Dying – their mission is to let people have a legal control over how we leave life. The late Terry Pratchett was a patron ‘ I think it’s time we learned to be as good at dying as we are at living.’’Here here’ I echo.
Assisted dying is illegal in the UK under the Suicide Act of 1961, punishable with a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
Every eight days someone travels to Switzerland for an assisted death – average cost £10,000.
Polly Toynbee writes – ‘If, like me, you have watched a beloved parent die in needless pain, longing for an end the doctors denied her, then you know this is a personal right everyone deserves.’
My own mother suffered dreadful pain during her death as we had no help in place. I asked the doctor if he could help. ‘If she were a dog we could put her out of her misery, but it is not allowed.’ That was 34 years ago and now I am revisiting the story with no more help or ideas of what to do.
The Netherlands had 6,600 assisted deaths in 2017. Death by euthanasia is 4% of all deaths in the Netherlands.