I recently read an article in which Studio 10 host Joe Hildebrand announced he was not in favour of euthanasia being legalised in Australia. I’ve always been quite torn on the issue.
When I was 26, and after weeks of exhausting tests and ambulance rides, a group of specialists told me I had brain cancer and had six weeks to live. They sent me home to die with 200 digesic tablets.
I remember them saying I would have a lot of strange things happen to me. When I got a virus Mum insisted I go to a local doctor, I recall the doctor asking me why I was squinting and when I told him I had double vision and brain cancer he insisted on an examination. He diagnosed brain tumors, he made phone calls and two days later I was in a different hospital having my first brain surgery. It was to insert a shunt to relieve pressure on my brain as it was squashed to the back of my head. Two weeks passed and I was back in a hospital for my second surgery (the main surgery) to remove a cystic mass with excessive brain debris (lhermittes-duclos disease [LDD]). I woke up six hours later in ICU to the surgeon congratulating me on ‘surviving’.
When I was in my 50s I had a fall and knocked my head. The doctor got me an early appointment with a top specialist and he then ordered an MRI to make sure I was ‘bleed free’. The MRI really knocked the hell out of me. I went to the doctor the following week for my results and I was told I had melanoma on the brain and a maximum of three months to live. They wanted me to have more tests, but I told them ‘no’, mainly because nobody was listening and my gut instincts were telling me mistakes were being made.
I started doing my own research asking a lot of doctors a lot of questions. As it happened, I should not have had the MRI because my brain shunt is so old and is not compatible with updated technology. Hence, the reason it knocked me around so much and was also why the scans were virtually unreadable — my head is full of scar tissue from being extensively cut on both sides.
The point of this blog is not a ‘poor me’. I don’t need sympathy. The fact is, I had two very high profile specialists tell me I was terminal on two separate occasions. The first time I was in a bad way and they did not expect me to survive the second surgery. Given the opportunity of ending my life, I am not sure what I would have done back then.
Forty years have passed I have continued to live with the aftermath. I think about a less stable person and how, given either diagnosis, they may well have looked for a way out. If the elderly are in pain from whatever issues, if there is no coming back, if their quality is gone, if they want out — okay. I can see how that makes sense, but anyone considering an end to their should be able to do as long as it is their decision and on their terms.