April 16, 2021

Grandma, I know how much you suffered for years and years with your brain power disappearing.  You started out on the bottom floor, and year by year, as your brain deteriorated, you were moved up from floor to floor.

The last time I saw you, my cousin and I wheeled you up to the garden on the roof of the care home and you said one word, chrysanthemum – not an easy word to say.  And indeed, there was a pretty chrysanthemum there.

Your daughter, my dear aunt, eventually followed you into dark places with Alzheimer’s.  Several times, in a variety of  different  care facilities, I saw how you struggled to make sense of your new, cruel world.   You  hated what you could no longer understand as your once bright, sharp, artistic mind, fought back — and then faded.

My bright spot of a memory from that time was your pure enjoyment of eating an ice cream sandwich we bought at a local store when I took you out for a walk.    You still knew somewhere inside you who I was,  who you were, and that we were connected.

I can remember promising myself that I would fight hard and do anything to avoid the horror of what both of you had senselessly suffered.

Heredity is now tracking me.   I had a heart attack in 2016.   After watching a pattern in the retirement community where I live in which something goes wrong, the doctor fixes it, and later something else goes wrong, and through pills, operations, or whatever, that problem is fixed temporarily.

I basically don’t have a problem with dying.  Dying is human and every living person must die.  I have been a lucky person to have so many mostly healthy years behind me.   I am ready to let nature take its course instead of hanging on miserably with attempts to “fix” me for years.

But the reality is that I, like my grandmother, and my aunt, don’t have any more choice than they did.   Suicide is very difficult, and I know of suicides gone wrong in our retirement community that ended up unintentionally hurting others.

For a variety of reasons, society today doesn’t accept suicide as a  way out of an impossible situation.  There is the legal exception of allowing people to  ingest doctor-prescribed quick acting medicines if they are already deemed terminally ill with only months to live.   Another legal exception can be choosing not to eat or drink until one dehydrates over a few weeks.  BUT the person who refuses all food and drink MUST be considered mentally competent to make such a decision.  If not, they must endure the long, slow progression toward a “natural” death.

It has been more than 4 years since my heart attack.  My deterioration started slowly, and is now accelerating.  How many more years before my time begins as a lump on a bed?  And then, how many years must I endure being that lump on a bed?

As we keep people alive longer and longer,  how many more generations of my family will become long term or short term lumps on beds with withering minds?














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