Death Wish, Part 3

I'm entering the last week of my six-week chemo/radiation treatment for my throat cancer. I just finished a week which I would rather have died than lived through. For five straight days I couldn't keep a thing down, food or water, just only a few anti-nausea meds. Despite the meds, I vomited every two or three hours, hocking painful acid reflux up my throat and sometimes all the way into my nose. It was horrible. Every day I went into the clinic for a three-hour infusion of saltwater and more anti-nausea meds, in addition to my daily 20 minutes of radiation and a big dose of chemotherapy on Wednesday. Fortunately, yesterday I got one of the nurses that really cares and she got a doc to put me on some even stronger meds. So last night I began to be able to relax a little and eat some fruit cocktail, and today (after more infusion) I've been sipping on a milkshake.

My point isn't to sicken you with the details of the suffering I've been going through. My question is this: Why don't we get a choice: Go through painful treatments that have a good chance of fixing me, or just a quick euthanasia and out? Frankly, I'd choose the euthanasia. But that's not a legal choice to even offer in the U.S.A., or in most countries. If I kept really quiet about it and made all the arrangements myself, I could choose “self-deliverence,” but even that is only dared talked about in terminal cases, where we're just avoiding some of the suffering at the inevitable end. Why in our society are we so scared to face death, and accept that some people like me fear death much less than the kind of prolonged suffering I've been going through? I just don't get it.

Of course, there was no knowing how bad it was going to be until I actually went through it, and apparently I've got an extremely sensitive nausea and gag reflex. Still, there were moments when pulling out the helium canister and hood seemed like a very practical option, except for the promises I've made to my loved ones about no surprise endings.

Yesterday I started telling people that if I didn't have a good day between now and Monday, then Monday I was going to declare my treatment over and put things back in God's hands. While I wouldn't call today a good day by any stretch, it's good enough that I feel I can tolerate a few more days like this. So for now the plan is on with the show and get through this last week. I'm also planning to call in support to help me and Misha through this: Yesterday, Loe gave me her afternoon to take me to the clinic, and I'm going to ask my sister to join me for a few days. I'm pulling out all the stops and trying, but God, this sucks.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I am trying so hard to accomplish something I don't even care about, namely, saving my life.

Lannie Rose
August 24, 2008