NEW - Margot McCleary
Having seen the experience of my mum Pamela, who suffered at the end of her life, it is my conviction, that a swift and dignified exit, properly and professionally controlled, should be a choice for any mentally competent adult, whose condition is demonstrably terminal and irreversible.
Pamela was still, at 89, an intelligent, educated and articulate woman. But over 35 years, rheumatoid arthritis had crippled her joints one by one, and finally rendered her blind. She could not move without assistance, could not see, and was completely dependent on others for all aspects of daily living and personal care. An independent-minded, spirited individual, her quality of life was completely diminished.
Two years or so before her death, Pamela started to consider how she might take control over her own death. She wanted a peaceful and dignified end without the prospect of unnecessarily prolonged suffering, either physical or mental.
Pamela was not prepared to ask medically qualified friends to put their careers on the line or to risk prosecution by helping her. In desperation, she took an overdose, but bungled it. Without specialist knowledge, it is difficult to know what to take, how much to take, and how to get it.
Over weeks, I watched her as her systems shut down one after the other. She remained mentally lucid when not strongly doped, and in increasing mental distress at her plight. It is cruel to force mentally competent dying adults to continue to suffer against their wishes once it is clear that death is imminent.
Should you want to contact any of the people featured in these pages, or wish to share your own story with us, please contact Jo Cartwright:
020 7479 7737 or 07725 433 025