Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spasms of pain

In Aussie in the early 1990s Bev and I enjoyed occasional glimpses of Andrew Denton in a Saturday night TV comedy show. Now I am hoping to hear him at the annual meeting of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society in a few weeks' time. Andrew has spent most of a year inquiring into Physician Assisted Death around the world and his podcasts on the Wheeler Centre have encouraged many of us to press for law change here in NZ.
I have been intrigued with his account of his father's death: "at the end, it was a violent series of spasms. It was as if something had crawled inside him and was tearing him apart from the inside."
I was immediately reminded of the pains after my first major surgery. Obviously not normal post-op pains, mine went undiagnosed and untreated for 36 hours. It was excruciating for up to half a minute at a time. I described it as being stretched on a rack with every part of my body from shoulders to knees trying to tear me apart. I wrote a three page report for the Hospital, but heard nothing back. Later someone suggested I had experienced

 tetany spasms.
If that kind of pain is to be my lot in my last hours it will probably be too late for what I would have wanted to do earlier: to have the choice of a peaceful and gentle death before that happens.
We need to change our thinking and change the law.

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