The Shoe and The Other Foot

Would you get a load of this? This is my 300th post. And as it just so happens I got something pretty interesting — well I think — to write about, too. Huh.

Yesterday a friend forwarded me a link to a BBC article about a “Locked-in” man’s right-to-die. She was interested in my take. Seeing how I was once in nearly the exact same predicament — although Tony Nicklinson’s “syndrome” sounds like the Cadillac model of the “syndrome” I experienced, he can eat and nod, I couldn’t. However the more I contemplated the story, and the complex issues seemingly at hand, the more convoluted my stance became.

I’ve written about this issue previously, at the beginning of February of last year Eluana Englara, an Italian woman in the throws of a “17 year coma, as a result of a car accident,” and was having her “fate,” if you will, decided by people other than herself. Simply because she wasn’t in the position to make her wishes known. I’ll say it again, this was, and always will be, a very complicated issue. One for which there is no easy answer…

But as far as Mr. Nicklinson is concerned — who sounds more like a “high-level quad” than a person who is “locked-in”, but given the nature of his condition, being a stroke, I understand where his diagnosis is originating — there really isn’t a debate. No-one should be forced to live, if they’d rather die.

Putting what we don’t know about Mr. Nicklinson’s situation aside, and there is a lot, I understand the issue is muddied by having his wife inject a lethal amount of drugs into him, as far as the law is concerned. And fair enough. I agree with the law. That way — and as Marta Russell discusses in her book Beyond Ramps this isn’t always the case — no-one could decide a life isn’t worth living by the narrow scope in which another person, not lying in a hospital bed, inevitably see’s the world. It’s just human nature. I’m not faulting it. I’m merely speaking the truth. Trust me the shoe is different when it’s on the other foot.

As for Mr. Nicklinson’s assessment of life as a “locked-in” person — which, as I’ve said, I have issues with him being characterized as such — I understand his frustration. It’s truly hell on earth. All the power to him to decide his path and have his wishes carried out.

And that brings me to my point. Quadriplegic’s can do just about anything they need to do to live, or end (I’ll assume), a life. Given sufficient access to the necessary assistive equipment/technology. If an individual can operate a wheelchair by blowing into a straw, I don’t think devising a switch where he could flip it by blowing into a straw, moving his head to one side, or any number of things he might be able to accomplish to start the “drip”, if you will, would be unfeasible.

Now I have no idea what implications there would be by setting Mr. Nicklinson up with whatever means he would need to end his life, legally speaking, but ideally this way he wouldn’t need to implicate his wife in his death. And, thus, I think this would be a neat little solution that could potentially satisfy all parties involved.

That is, of course, if he can do it…