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Sometimes death with dignity is the right solution

To the Editor:

The article against legalized assisted suicide ("Death with Dignity") in November's Regal Courier inspired me to write this rebuttal. It was the wrong choice for the writer, but that doesn't mean the choice should be taken away from others.

I recently helped a King City friend through the "Death with Dignity" process. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor, probably aggressive, at age 92. She chose no treatment to end her life. She wasn't worried about side effects or no support system, as in the other writer's case. She felt that she had lived a good full life and was ready to go.

She had a good month, arranging her affairs, while going through the required doctor visits and waiting periods. She was losing capabilities rapidly in that last week but never wavered in her determination to control her own end. (I could say she was annoyingly obsessed with it until the prescription was written. Then she relaxed.)

I have long believed that a person should have some choice in their end of life. I saw a friend's father dying in the hospital in the '80s, in pain, from bone cancer. Begging the nurses for pain medicine is not the way to spend one's last weeks.

I can't blame the doctors, for a few years later the best orthopedic surgeon in the area was jailed for overprescribing narcotics. He normally prescribed mostly muscle relaxers but was conned by someone with a real back problem but who resold the narcotics.

Today we have hospice, and that solves many end-of life-issues - but… it took me about three months before I could get my mother on hospice.

There was an insurance issue outstanding that had to be cleared up, but Medicare wouldn't tell me what is was and they wouldn't accept Mom's existing power of attorney.

Medicare only accepts its Medicare form. After three months, Mom was recovering and didn't need hospice. Hospice would have been a mistake - maybe a deadly choice - but that doesn't mean hospice shouldn't be available for others.

Both hospice and "Death with Dignity" are valuable options - if and when appropriate.

Marie Vander Weele

King City