NEW - Paul Lacey
My wife Kathy and I met at school in Oct 1965. She was 15 and I was 14. She was my first and only love. We married in 1972, and have 3 children. She was beautiful, smart, sexy and fun to be with. She loved life. We had in the past spoken about terminal illness, and promised each other that we would never let the other suffer in pain and would assist their death.
In 2009 Kathy complained of backache. Kathy had had this before, and it was either a water infection or maybe a pulled muscle. However, this time the pain would not go. She went to our Doctor in June 2009 who sent her for an Ultra-sound. This revealed a large mass on her right kidney. She then had a CT, and we both went for the results on 7th July 2009. Her consultant told her it was Cancer and had spread to her spine. She was admitted immediately as she was in a lot of pain and could not sit upright for any length of time. She had further tests and an MRI. On 11th July 2009, her consultant revealed to us all that this Cancer was terminal but he would do all he could to extend her life for as long as possible.
Kathy was sent to another hospital to have rods inserted into her spine as it was close to collapse. The operation was done on 18th July 2009 and was successful. I had given up work to care for her, and managed to get her home on 22nd July 2009. This was quite remarkable considering the scale of the operation, but was further testament to her resolve and willpower that she was able to stand. Kathy had 10 shots of radiotherapy in September to ease the pain. We attended various other appointments which were not easy as she had to use a wheelchair because her walking was limited. None of these appointments were of any use, and became the subject of a complaint later.
Throughout October 2009, Kathy had mentioned that it was getting difficult to breathe. On 29th October 2009 I called the emergency Doctor and Kathy was admitted to hospital with a large plural effusion. They tried to drain the fluid, but it was obvious after 18 days, and removal of over 2 litres of fluid that it was not working. During her stay in hospital, Kathy had stopped eating and was getting weaker I suggested that it would be better to stop messing her about and let her come home to die. This was the first time I realized she was close to death. Her morphine had been greatly increased, and she was quite comfortable.
Kathy came home on 17th November 2009. I had good support from the local nurses who had arranged for a hospital bed and other equipment to be installed in our bedroom. The nurses came regularly to check her auto-feed morphine, and our Doctor came daily to adjust the dosages. Kathy was very peaceful and slept most of the time. I would lift her onto a commode when she requested, but she could not eat and drink. It was during one visit by the Doctor about 4days before her death that she suddenly said to me "You promised me ". I had forgotten this promise we made many years ago, and it took me by surprise. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I did not want to get it wrong or hurt her. Luckily for me she slept peacefully and died at 18:15 on November 29th 2009.
I later got her medical notes, and on 11th November 2009 Kathy told the nurse she just wanted to die now. This should have been the moment for the system to kick in, but it could not. Who has the right to deny a dying person the right to choose their time of death? What is the point of dragging out the inevitable? Luckily the last days of Kathy's life were mostly peaceful and without pain. Others are not so lucky, and this ridiculous system of denying a dying person their right to a quicker and more peaceful end, needs to be changed.
Paul Lacey, Basingstoke
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