Against Medical Advice

by swellsbennett

I’m angry and sad today — and I’m trying not to show it.

Someone important to my husband’s family — a man I respect and love — is choosing to end his life by refusing medical treatment. I know this is his choice; it’s a choice I have seen others make before. Under other circumstances — if he had cancer, for instance — I would support his choice. But he doesn’t. He has pneumonia, which has led to sepsis and renal failure. He is probably going to die from something that is highly treatable in the 21st century.

I have said before that my goal is to reach the ripe age of 100. That wasn’t always true. When I was a teenager, I went through a bout of depression and found myself contemplating suicide. When I ultimately overcame those dark thoughts and emerged into a better, happier life, I decided that I would never let depression fool me into believing that life wasn’t worth living again. Even on my worst day, I know that I still have more good days ahead of me — and I want to see them.

But what if I didn’t see any better days coming? What if I spent every minute of every day living with pain, and the doctors told me there was no way to predict if that pain would ever disappear? How bad would that pain have to be before I decided that life wasn’t worth the trouble anymore? Before I chose to allow a curable illness to advance to where it could kill me?

I hope I never find out.