ON MY OWN by Diane Rehm

This is a very personal book.  Personal as the feeling expressed by the author was very genuine.  Personal also as when reading part of the narratives, you’d think: why any of this was my business.

I like the book till the later part.  The repetitive expressing on how she missed her husband who died after a long illness and eventually killed himself actually under her help by not eating or drinking didn’t bother me.  But it only last till the part where she mentioned she supported to pass the law to allow medical assistant suicide when the patient is in a devastated torture and wants to end his or her own life.  I don’t agree on that.  Because there is no way to tell whether a patience wants to kill himself or herself is because of pain or any other reasons.  It is a typical problem that 100 people will see it in 100 different ways.  And in case of that, law should keep simple and clear.  And that is, doctors are always, always to cure and save people, not in any cases to kill people.

But I wasn’t annoyed by this opinion of the author’s – I always appreciate the fact that people see things differently – until the author went on and on in the last few chapters with the topic and said she wouldn’t stop till she is agreed with everyone and this kind of law is passed in every state.

I may be able to understand why some want this law to be passed – some have been tortured by seeing and accompanying their loved ones fading and leaving this world with the great pain and hoped, after their loved one passed, that period of the time never had existed and rather their loved one had lived shorter than they did.  But I just simply wasn’t convinced by a person, who is the author, in an earlier chapter, just stated how guilty she felt about sending her husband away when he discovered that he had Parkinson’s disease; leaving him to other persons’ care and not even by his side when he died.

I knew several senior people who had Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease.  Some of them already passed away and a couple of them are still struggling.  But all of them had or have been staying with their spouses and families.  The persons with Alzheimer’s disease can’t even recognize almost all the persons they met in their lives.  But they still remember their “the other half”, even when they lost their basic control and didn’t know when to use the restroom.  Surprisingly, none of their loved ones gave them up.  Some hire help to keep the patience at home.  Some sold their house just to rent another room in the same facility so that she can live next to the patience, who is her husband.  None of them said, you are so tortured, so I wish you would die now.

I am thinking, if, if the author had stayed with her husband.  So he didn’t spend his last Christmas sick and alone.  So he didn’t just stare a strange room every day after he woke.  So he wasn’t only able to say “goodnight” every night when he went to sleep with a nurse who he didn’t even know.  So he didn’t need to have merely one thing to think about every minute in his last year: I left my home and I’ll never go back, now, right now, I am just waiting to die…  Maybe he wouldn’t have requested the doctor to help him die.  Maybe he would’ve wanted to live longer.  Anyway, the world is so beautiful, the faces of our loved ones are so beautiful, that no amount of pain will make seeing them for one more minute less worthy.

That’s why I am against medical assistant suicide.  How do you know if the patience wants to die only because he is not cared enough?  How do you know if the patience wants to die because he worries he will become a burden of the others?  And if you know, then it will become pure killings.

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