This is a very interesting video and I recommend you watch it whether you’re in the health care industry or not!
I am dying. … There is no sense in trying to deny that fact,” 59-year-old Craig Ewert says of his rapid deterioration just months after being diagnosed with ALS, a motor neuron disorder often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “I’m not tired of living,” explains Ewert, a retired computer science professor. “I’m tired of the disease, but I’m not tired of living. And I still enjoy it enough that I’d like to continue. But the thing is that I really can’t.
The video follows Ewert’s path (who is accompanied by his wife) to what is commonly referred to as “suicide tourism.” After doctors warned Ewert that he would become fully paralyzed in less than a month with certain death to follow, Ewert decided to enroll in an assisted suicide program in Switzerland, where this procedure is legal when requirements are met. “The Swiss government has recently countered by imposing greater restrictions on the sorts of cases Swiss doctors can approve for suicide, largely limiting it to those in the late stages of terminal illness who feel their lives have become unbearable — the same standard that’s in place in Oregon and Washington state.” The other stipulation placed on the program by the Swiss government is that a patient must drink the lethal sedative him/herself (that is why Ewert had to act fast; full paralysis was setting in quickly). If he, and he alone, could not swallow or sign the documents requesting the procedure, he (or any of his family members) could never do it. This mean the alternative to assisted suicide was a vegetable lifestyle where he could be completely conscious but without the ability to move, talk, eat, control bodily functions, etc. Trapped inside himself until death.
Best point made in the entire video: “There are people who will look at this and say: ‘No. Suicide is wrong. God has forbidden it. You cannot play God and take your own life.'” Craig Ewert anticipates some of the objections to the act he’s preparing to carry out. “I’d like to hear someone say that when a neonatal babe needs medical intervention to survive! You know what? This ventilator [pointing to his own] is playing God. If I had lived without access to technology, chances are I would be dead now.”
The video is heart wrenching. It’s scary, in fact. In the original version the director excluded the scene where Ewert actually drinks the lethal sedative and dies. Ewert became upset and refused to let the video air unless this scene was included. He said that death is what scares people. And if you cut out that part, if you hide that event behind a veil of illusive, it only perpetuates the fear of the unknown. I could not have said it better myself.