My cousin has been ill and is dying. I won't share details here because they aren't mine to share.
However, today I accompanied my cousin to appointments with doctors and specialized pharmacists, and I got a much closer look how Oregon's Death with Dignity Act works in practice.
Many of you may know this, but in large hospitals and medical groups, there are specialized pharmacies --oncology, HIV, pediatrics, etc. I've never experienced this end of health care myself, but I'm impressed by what I've witnessed and overheard these last couple of months. There are some pharmacists who *build relationships* with patients and who spend a *lot* of time coaching and counseling the patient with his or her medications.
I had no idea that there were nice, intelligent, not-overworked pharmacists like this who could remember important details about a patient and make smart, human suggestions from listening carefully to what the patient said about his or her experience.
I also had no idea that it might matter how and when one receives the medicine to end one's life with dignity.
My cousin can't use the hands very well right now but is as dramatic and reactive as ever. To end life with pills, my cousin would need to open up 90 capsules into applesauce. This would cost a certain amount. To end my cousin's life with a liquid version of the drug, the cost would be doubled or more. And there is a shelf-life to the liquid version so it requires different planning.
I stood on rocks and said, "But why can't _____ break those capsules into applesauce for you?"
"Because ____ can't by law. I have to be able to do it all myself."
My understanding of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act took on deeper and new dimensions.
And my respect for my cousin rose, too.
My cousin isn't planning to cut any corners here (and planning each step forward is what keeps the sanity). My cousin is going to do this by the book and with pride.
And I will be moving wildly between naive and proud as we go along.
Dear goddess, please ground us like trees and let us move with the wind.