Tears for the dying

A TEARY-EYED Lisa Baker has shared heart-breaking tales from her Maylands constituents during debate on WA’s proposed euthanasia laws.

Pausing to regain her composure several times, the Labor MP read out a moving letter from Inglewood resident Carol.

“Many years ago I worked as a young registered nurse in a world-class, award-winning medical unit for people with terminal illnesses.

“Many patients suffered excruciating, unremitting physical and emotional pain as they entered the last phases of life.

“…Neither of my parents were eligible for palliative care. Once my father (a medical practitioner) knew he was close to death he signed himself out of hospital and refused to take any more medications even though these drugs were keeping him alive.

“A medical colleague and friend helped him to die peacefully, painlessly and with dignity,” Carol continued.

“Sadly his wife and children couldn’t be with him because of the risk we’d be charged with aiding a suicide.

“My mother’s last months of life were appalling. She couldn’t talk, swallow, eat or walk and she was incontinent. She begged to be allowed to die but the nursing home and her GPs would not cease her medication because ‘nature’ must take its course.

Humiliating

“Medicine kept her alive not ‘nature’! Therefore my mother, who knew what was happening, was forced to wear a nappy and was fed by a tube in her stomach. The last months of her life were humiliating and emotionally painful.”

“…After 12 years of profound disability my father chose the time and place of his death. He died in his bed cuddling his beloved dog. My poor mum, still wearing her nappy and being tube fed, took several weeks to die. She remained conscious until the last few hours of her life but was unable to tell us what she wanted.”

Ms Baker also read out a letter from Mary, whose 42-year-old husband Chris died in December 1987, just six months after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“I took the kids down to see him on Christmas day; by this time he had lost so much weight and hardly recognised us.

“This was the last time we seen him. It was a very very painful death even in hospital.

“He suffered so much as did our four children, they can all still see in their minds that last day.

“If Chris had the choice he would have taken his own life. He felt degraded not being able to look after himself; he was complete bedridden.

“For a man of 42 not being able to hug and kiss your family was the worst thing that could happen; he could not talk he could not do anything for himself.

“This is our life, not the doctors’; we should be the ones to [make] our own decisions about our own lives.”

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