IN HER WORDS: Wife's agony watching husband die in pain
I AM writing this submission in hopes that it will help get voluntary assisted dying legalised in Queensland. Please. Don't make them suffer any longer.
Before getting ill, my husband was a very active man and quick to laugh. He served in three wars - World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
He was a high school principal and loved by his staff and students.
One Sunday, some repair people came to repair a sidewalk on the school property (yes Sunday).
Jack was afraid that some kids would come on campus and mess up the work. So, we took a couple of chairs and a picnic lunch and sat there until it dried properly.
He had this one particular student who was blind in one eye and needed to have the eye removed. The parents could not afford the glass eye. Because of Jack, we paid for it. His school always rated high on the school ratings.
The list goes on with how he served his country and his students. He loved his family as well and involved us in so many activities. Then the diabetes struck. Type II. Yes, Jack was overweight and he truly liked to eat. It took a few years, but it finally wore down his life.
As time went on and he knew that he was soon to die, he stressed over and over, "please don't let me suffer any more". He was in so much pain. There was no coming back.
He was put into a hospice, but I knew that he was coming home. He would get sick before and always come back. He would this time as well. I had no doubt. Our doctor told me to be sure that I had all his legal things in place. I told him that it wasn't necessary, Jack was going to be home in a week or two. He said OK but just do it anyway. I did.
I went to see him every day and at all hours of the day and night. He was having terrible hallucinations from the medications. He would tell me that "they" would come and tie him up and pull him behind a helicopter and drag him over the ground. He would show me his sores. This went on, but he still had his mind in tack during the day. He was very upset that I wouldn't take him home. Many tears were shed over that.
Our daughter would come home from college and sit by his bed and hold his hand. She had difficulty finding things to talk to him about and he always wanted to hear her voice, so she started reading to him - Harry Potter.
I saw him get weaker and weaker and he stopped going to physiotherapy. But he was going to come home. He was strong. His pain was so bad, even for my strong husband. He said that he didn't want to hurt any more. He had had enough and there was nothing more that could be done for him. He would get better. He was going to come home.
Then, one morning at six o'clock, my phone rang at our home. "You had better come in. he isn't doing well now. Things are failing. You should probably call in family". So off I go.
I sat by his bed and, he had taken himself off of food and hydration and he wasn't hooked up to anything. He was barely conscious. "Hi honey. You have them really concerned about you now. You need to come back now." He opened his eyes slightly and gave me a little smile and held my hand. I didn't call family right away. Then, all of a sudden, I thought, "I am losing my husband. He is dying today. Wait. I am not ready".
I called our daughter. She came quickly. We sat with him, but he didn't know it anymore. We were told that the last thing to go was the hearing. So, we talked to him. We talked about all the fun vacations we had had. We talked about how he would always carry her from her bed on Christmas morning out to the tree. We talked. And we cried. His fever was 42 degrees.
More family and friends came. They talked to him. One family member told Jack to let go. No, no. He can't go. I'm not ready!
Then, as I held his hand and looked into his face, I saw his last breath. He was finally out of pain. He had suffered so much for so long. He's not coming home.
Those last three years of his life were so very hard on him. He was in so much pain and needed so much help. He had no more control of his urination and very little for his bowels. Couldn't walk. Had many TIAs (mini strokes).
One made his swallowing anything difficult, so he was on soft food. Most of the time I couldn't get him on the portable toilet that we had next to him. The end was too tough.
Those last days, incredible. No one should have to go through that. He should have been released before those last days for sure.
Some compassion for anyone in that horrendous state but especially for Jack, he was so good.