By Ron Posno, October 10, 2018
A wonderful documentary called The Eight Conditions, which was produced by Alisa Siegel of CBC Radio, aired on Michael Enright’s show, The Sunday Edition, on September 30, 2018. The documentary, which you can listen to here, is based on my personal quest for an assisted death when I am no longer capable of making such decisions for myself. You can also find a link to the documentary and other relevant information on Dying With Dignity Canada’s website.
All told, the documentary has resulted in thousands of comments – mostly favourable and supportive. Practically all spoke from personal involvement with an overly long and excruciating end-of-life experience.
MAID (Medical Assistance In Dying) legislation fails most of these people and those of us experiencing dementia by not accepting Advance Care Directives.
The CBC Radio documentary spoke of eight conditions, but failed to describe them all. These are the eight conditions I have specified for a request of assisted death. They may be of assistance to you.
This is a case of “My Life — My Choice.” For anyone else, it’s a case of “Your Life — Your Choice.” We all have the right to determine our lives. The Canadian Charter of Rights says so, and so does the Supreme Court of Canada. But I believe that the way the current legislation is set up for MAID tramples on our charter rights.
By no means am I suggesting that my way should be the way of someone else. I am merely offering these suggestions for those who similarly desire an assisted death.
I have MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) which typically acts as a precursor for one or more forms of thirteen types of dementia (including Alzheimer’s). In all cases, dementia is a progressive brain disease devolving to a terminal stage devoid of rational thought, feeling or behaviour. This takes time, even years, but always reaching the severe and terminal stage – an end-of-life consisting of dependency, anxiety and fear for all concerned – care recipients and care-givers.
Fortunately, I was diagnosed so early – even before the mild and moderate stages of decline – that I have years to get ready and plan. And years to live fully and happily with my wife and friends. We know what is happening and we know what will happen… and we don’t need or want to waste a moment worrying about the coming severe or terminal stage of dementia. I want an assisted death… and, until then, I want the peace that comes with the assurance it will be provided when I need/want it.
My Will and particularly, my Power of Attorney (for health purposes) has eight conditions for fulfilling my request for assistance in dying. I had to spell them out in clear and definitive terms so there can be no excuse for misunderstandings. These are “The Eight Conditions” referred to by Alisa Siegel in the broadcast:
- When I am unable to recognize and/or cognitively and adequately respond — with appropriate emotion and thought – to family members, care providers or friends; or
- When I become persistently abusive – either verbally and/or physically; or
- When I become frequently lost or wander without awareness or knowledge of my whereabouts; or
- When I require physical restraints and/or a locked door facility; or
- When I present the symptoms of acute depression or paranoia or melancholia or elective muteness; or
- When I frequently experience visual, auditory, olfactory or tactile hallucinations; or
- When I require assisted personal care because I am frequently incontinent; and/or
- When I am unable to eat, clean or dress myself without assistance.
These are clear and definitive. When any one (or more) is prevalent, then I want death. I won’t be able to competently communicate anything, since my brain will have lost most of its functioning… but my Substitute Decision Maker, as specified in the POA portion of my Will, will be able to present my “condition” to my attending medical practitioner. (The requisite “Request Medical Assistance in Dying” must have previously been filed with the medical practitioner).
MAID, as its been legislated, won’t permit this at this time. I am confident that with the much anticipated Federal report of the use of MAID over its first two years, data will support change to reflect use as directed by the Supreme Court. We’ll see. A large number of people are concerned and working to ensure those of us who have been denied our Rights, will have MAID corrected and properly administered as soon as possible. As this saga unfolds, further information will be posted at www.posno.ca
YOUR LIFE – YOUR CHOICE