My name is Susan and I was Colin’s full time carer for over 9 years. We were married for 5 and a half years and I was with Colin when he died.
I saw the suffering that Colin went through first hand every day and it is my strong belief that the law in this country has to change. In the weeks before Colin took his own life I begged the doctors to put Colin in hospital on a morphine drip because the pain medication was not working any more. All the specialists who saw Colin said that there was nothing they could do any more. I was refused and told that it would be illegal. The only legal alternative that we were given was nothing short of medical torture. How can it be legal to keep someone alive to suffer another day but it is not legal to let them go? Every day was worse than the last and I would like to point out that keeping someone “alive” is not the same as “living”. Colin’s quality of life was zero. I have never known or even heard of someone who had so many diseases some of which contradicted each other.
Voluntary euthanasia needs to be legalised in this country. Colin wanted to die so much but with nobody to ask for advice he was forced to guess what would work, if it worked at all. He was forced to make a terrible decision. One which could have been avoided if he were in hospital and allowed to die under medical supervision. You may think that I have medical training but I don’t. When I started to look after Colin I was just a friend looking after a friend. It was very much a “learn as you go” job. Colin did not want to die alone and asked me to stay with him and that is just what I did. Colin’s death was horrible. If that wasn’t enough to deal with I had 4 police officers turn up on my door and, amongst other things, tell me that I would probably go to jail. I must stress I did not help Colin take his own life, I just didn’t stop him. There are many other people like Colin and people should have the right to say how they want to die and have their wishes carried out. In a hospital it would take minutes even seconds and be pain free. On their own the outcome is unpredictable and loved ones are put through the horrible aftermath.
What do you think that you would want if you were in so much pain and there was nothing that anyone could do to make it better?
In regards to the rules that would have to be decided on I have my own thoughts on that. Nobody wants a situation where people are trying to get rid of relatives because they think they are too much trouble to look after or want their inheritance sooner rather than later. Therefore, I think you need 2 or 3 doctors to sign that the patient has a terminal illness and within reason that there is nothing more that they can do to make them better or improve their quality of life. One doctor should be the patient’s G.P and there should also be at least one specialist. A psychologist is also a must. After all, we want to make sure that they are making a logical decision to want to end the pain for good and that the decision is theirs not someone else’s.
In Colin’s case we could have got a G.P., 2 Specialists and a Psychiatrist to all say that his condition was terminal, painful, and that there was nothing more that they could do. Adult Mental Health also confirmed that he was rational and making a logical decision. I just want the law to say you can have your final wish to die under medical supervision, humanely and quickly. An assisted dying law would not result in more people dying, but in fewer people suffering.
- Susan Wragg, February 2017
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