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Assisted dying, choosing dying with dignity. The time for legislation is now Ireland!



The big Debate, Assisted Dying, choosing dying with dignity – End of life Ireland!

 

“None of us have the right to tell another how much suffering they can and should bear. Just think about it, if every day is one filled with physical pain and turmoil and no hope, we should have the human right to say when we have had enough”.

 

Firstly, please remember this is just my opinion and all views on this topic are my own. For those reading this you don’t have to agree with me, like I said before these are my opinions and thoughts, and no one is forcing you to continue to read my blog.

 

In Ireland the last public hearing session was held on February 13th by the special Oireachtas Committee with regards to whether Ireland will put into place legislation for Assisted Dying in Ireland. The 14 committee members will now draft their final report which is due to be published on March 20th, 2024.

 

The right to have control over one’s body and death is a complex and well debated aspect of personal autonomy. The Oireachtas Committee has had discussions with both sides. Those advocating for this right and those who oppose the idea, and most importantly having open discussions with medical professionals and those living life with debilitating diseases that has no cure.  Advocates for this right argue for an individual’s freedom to make decisions about their own body and timing and circumstances of their death. Those against argue on opinions based on personal, cultural, religious, and philosophical beliefs.

 

 In my opinion legislating for choice at the end of life is the safe option, especially for the individual wanting to avail of the service and their family and loved ones. To date Ireland does not offer this service, so basically if you want compassion at the end of life as a country Ireland are outsourcing this service to other countries in Europe and around the world were this is legal. This automatically puts added and unnecessary strain on the individual seeking this service and the families. The Irish government needs to understand they have a duty of care to those of us who are sick and living with life debilitating diseases. The Irish health system is struggling daily. All we ever hear on the news is reports of overcrowded hospitals and long waiting lists, so why not let those who choose to surrender and end there suffering do that and let all those happy and willing to receive the medical resources that are available get them.

 

So basically, at present with the absence of legislation to protect the people, you love the most you must travel abroad alone if you are abled bodied enough to ensure you don’t incriminate someone or be left in such a desperate situation that you feel the only choice is you must take drastic actions yourself. Also, we need to consider the added emotional and financial burden of the expense of going abroad alone and paying for this service. I think these options would be far more traumatising for loved ones left behind to deal with and to come to terms with. There is always the risk a loved one could face a prison sentence if they are seen to have assisted you in any way whether you take actions into your own hands at home or if they accompany you abroad.

 

My thoughts and my views are one of a person living a life with a neuromuscular disease.

Everyone kicks off about the right to live with dignity but how about for a change we talk about the right to die with dignity. We all deserve the right to die with dignity, providing we have the mental capacity to fully understand our decision. I do believe this however needs to be done in a controlled environment. I agree certain medical criteria must of course be met and signed off by multiple medical professionals to protect vulnerable people being misguided and led astray by people with other agendas. I do fully understand and appreciate the ethical concerns assisted dying raises about the sanity of life, the role of healthcare professionals, and the potential for abuse and coercion.

 

I have muscular dystrophy it’s a relentless disease that’s eating away at my muscles. My muscles are wasting away in my body, and I have no control over what is happening to me. Basically, by the time this disease will be finished with me, I’ll just be a carcass of bones and flesh, living with my own personal frustrations haunting me. I know this decline will continue till my inevitable death, as there is no cure or hope for my illness. As it is all I am doing is trying to survive in a body that wants to destroy me. It isn’t easy trying to survive when you are physically destructing from the inside out. I do not want the people I love watching my body waste away and deteriorate in front of them. The medical system in Ireland can’t guarantee me a life without pain. So am I to take all the opioids and anti-depressants available to me to try numbing my pain for years just to survive, to me that is not living, and it’s not a life I’d personally want to live.  So why can’t I get to choose to say goodbye and go on my terms, when the time is right for me if I want to?

 

I have already spoken to those close to me about the option of dying with dignity. It’s something that I have investigated, and I would like to have the option to avail of in the future. Obviously not anytime soon as I still have a life to live that at present that offers me a reasonable quality of life, people to love and without doubt a few more people yet to still piss off.

 

At present I have a quality of life, it’s just not the one I envisioned for myself at 41 years of age. It’s not about taking the easy way out, it’s about self-respect, peace of mind and about acceptance. When I lose my quality of life and If I do decide on assisted dying with dignity. I want it to be about my choice and for it to be dignified. At the end of the day, it’s about respect for oneself and wanting dignity when quality of life can no longer be achieved. Do I want to envision a life of 24-hour care of being fed, washed, and clothed by someone else and being trapped in a body that’s already half dead, if every day is one filled with physical pain and turmoil and no hope. I do not want this life for me or my loved ones.

 

 

Is assisted dying selfish?

Personally, I don’t think it is. Maybe because I’m already looking at this with a different perspective then most. When you are fit and healthy you look at life with rose tinted glasses, you may think to yourself “I could never do that” but how do you know exactly how you will feel until you’re in that situation. I just hope if the time comes, and if I do decide to go down this road, I can do it in my home country, as assisted dying isn’t available in Ireland. It’s sad to think those who are at the final stages of life or those living with a life debilitating illness who want to avail of this service must travel abroad alone and pay thousands of euros just to die with dignity. If we have legislation in Ireland for assisted dying and if we did offer this service, it will most certainly help alleviate the emotional and financial burden on the individual choosing to end their life. Its all about the option of having the choice knowing it’s there, so I can concentrate on living in the now and not having to worry about the painful road ahead of me. It basically comes down to having the peace of mind and having the freedom of choice and control over my body.  I don’t think it is right that if I want to avail of this professional service and I fit the medical criteria that I must leave my loved ones behind to travel abroad alone to come back in a casket or urn.


Nobody really wants to die and leave loved ones behind but sometimes it basically comes down to having peace of mind and control in a world that challenges you daily, when you’re in unbearable pain and where you no longer have a quality of life. I just want the option to have a choice and have control over my body and what happens to me.

 

Courage is making hard decisions. I personally think the final stage of accepting any illness / terminal diagnosis is surrendering to it, none of us are going to live forever so why drag out the inevitable. What are the benefits of dragging out someone’s pain, misery, and suffering, when the end result is death anyways. We cannot influence the progress of a disease, but we should be able to control how we die when suffering is incurable or intolerable.


We should be able to say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We fight every day for a life with dignity so why not fight for the right of those wishing to die with dignity, for those who live daily in pain and turmoil with no hope or cure.

 

"Living is what you get to do every day, dying you only do the once so why not be allowed do it with dignity when quality of life can no longer be achieved".

 

Siobhan Malone McBarron xo  

 

 

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