September 29, 2019
Promise me you won’t freak out. I’ve been debating an issue for years. It’s one of those issues that you can’t talk about because people freak out. It’s really a debate best held between physicians. In time I suspect religious authorities and the legal profession will chime in.
Before I go on, let me tell you a little story. Tonight is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. As is our custom, Renee prepared a holiday meal and we had family and friends over. Renee out did herself. It wasn’t a meal; it was a feast. After dinner, Renee stated that she wanted the meal to be special because it probably will be the last holiday we celebrate in our home. We are moving to North Carolina in the spring.
As my readers know, I’ve been depressed over my physical circumstances. The idea that tonight is a “last time” event is depressing. Renee started me thinking about all the “last time” events we will be celebrating in the months to come.
As we plan to sell our home and establish our North Carolina life, I am forced to think of all the friends and patients I’ll be leaving in Illinois. So, I sat down to write an email to Dr. Pamela Wible which led to this blog.
First, let me state that, while moving can be depressing, leading to a lot of last times, it can also be exhilarating. Moving can be full of new chances, new joys. Moving can be full of joy.
Now, drum roll, I’ll get to the point. Dr Wible is an expert on physician suicide. I told you not to freak! I’m not committing suicide, I’m just moving to North Carolina (my UVa. friends may think so). The question I’ve been debating for years is, “If a terminally ill patient or one with a progressive neurological disease decides to end his/her life when life is no longer worth living, is that called suicide?”
Tough question, huh? Physicians are committing suicide at a ridiculously high rate and Dr Wible is the expert, so I sent her this question. I figured its time to seek her opinion. Remember, I asked you to “not panic.” I fully suspect that I will piss a lot of people off. The reality is that the question needs an answer and will probably never have one.
So why open this can of worms? Over the years, I’ve had terminally ill patients, patients degraded by their diseases and in severe pain, take their own lives. Their deaths were listed as “suicide” and suicide has an extremely negative connotation. It leaves a horrid legacy for the surviving family members. When dealing with a life ending disease, it should not.
I am moving to North Carollina with my wife, daughter and son, granddaughter and future grandson. I have four other children and 3 more grandchildren. I told you not to worry, I have a lot to live for and hopefully a long time before my Parkinson’s steals the quality and joys of life from me.