This process transformed Diane into an advocate for increased conversation end-of-life care and the right to die on one’s own terms, as well as a brave and sympathetic voice for anyone who must learn how to live again after bereavement.
The day John died is the day she started writing this book.
And in the year that followed, Diane zeroed in on two causes that she would devote herself to: Compassion & Choices and Us Against Alzheimer's.
Roy Fried, his primary physician; our son, David; our daughter, Jennifer, who was on the phone from Boston; and me. Fried that because Parkinson’s disease had so affected him that he no longer had the use of his hands, arms, or legs, because he could no longer stand, walk, eat, bathe, or in any way care for himself on his own, he was now ready to die.
He said that he understood the disease was progressing, taking him further and further into incapacity, with no hope of improvement. Clearly, his expectation—and his misunderstanding—was that, now that he had made his decision, he could simply be “put to sleep” immediately, with medication. Fried explained that he was unable to carry out John’s wishes, that he was prohibited from committing such an act in the state of Maryland, John became very angry.
The only option was to refuse medicine, food and water. While I'm mentioning listeners, let me just point out that our D. cab drivers are the best informed people you will ever meet.
I have yet to ride with a cabbie who doesn't listen to The Diane Rehm Show.And now he was making the ultimate decision, and having it thwarted. Fried explained that the only alternative John had, if he truly wished to die, was to stop eating, drinking fluids, or taking medications.In other words, he could bring his life to an end through those means, but no one could do it for him. Fried added that he hoped John would not make the decision to end his life, but that, if he did so, as his physician he would honor it.To a person they rhapsodize about how wonderful she is and how much they will miss her when she retires.They particularly love her soothing voice and how respectful she is of her guests. After John died, Diane was faced with the reality of a new normal -- in both mundane and profound ways. She was living for one but still thinking about two.In 2005, John was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She concluded that she simply wasn't cut out to be a caregiver.