I’ve just had my quarterly Zoladex implant. Having taken quite a few of them “cold turkey” in recent years, I must be getting soft. I made up a patch with some Emla cream and stuck this onto my skin in the approved area and the implant went in with less pain than usual. But I could have used more cream.
While waiting for the nurse practitioner to punch the Zoladex in I studied the notices on the walls, especially the one that states a patients’ rights. It’s a lot different from what I might have seen twenty years ago. Over and over again it says I have a right to make decisions about my treatment. It’s pretty impressive and inspires quite a bit of confidence. My views are, apparently, quite important.
All very fine, until the time when I get into that last stage of care where nothing anyone can do for me will make any kind of difference or relieve the waves of pain that may be washing over me. Then they will have to say, “Oh, sorry, your Patients’ Rights have just run out. We can’t do anything to ease the intolerable pain we know you are suffering. You just have to put up with it. We just hope it won’t be too long...”
It ought to be a terminal patient’s right to ask for - and be assessed for - physician-assisted death. It ought to be the first principle of hospice therapy that an easy and comfortable death, one way or another, is the right of every terminal patient. We must change the law.