Back from holiday and there's always mountains of stuff to sort. Busy busy busy. But the nuisances and inconveniences pale against that adversity that some patients endure. A number of patients presented with different backgrounds causing the same presentation and experience of wishing to die in an active intentional elective manner. Indulge me in merging details of several patients into one vignette.
A patient's got severe COPD and is breathless just sitting around doing nothing. He's got lungs full of coal dust. He's got knackered joints all over, he struggles to mobilise at all now. He's scalded himself, dropping cups of tea on himself through arthritic and somewhat numb hands (his GP reckons past machine use has caused vibration white finger). He's long standing angina, blood pressure and mild heart failure, he's getting older and renal function's starting to decline too but a recent diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease clinched it.
He described how he reckoned he'll get iller, frailer, more dependant, physically and mentally deteriorate and explained he'll die, "buggered, a cabbage." Those were his words. Grim. He'd been a proud man, proud of his working class roots and life, grafting to earn everything and asking nothing from anybody. When he came into hospital he'd not even allowed his family to look after his dog, he asks nothing and puts nobody out. Except inadvertently a social worker, who sorted kennels.
He feels it's not right for him to lose his dignity and independance, he's wishing to end it all before it comes to that. He's not awfully cheerful but he's not clinically depressed. Specifically, he's not mentally disordered (within the meaning of the MHA 1983) and he's a capacitated adult (within the meaning of the MCA 2005). His psychological wellbeing's not cheery, but there's no frank psychiatric condition to attend to. Mental wellbeing's supported, protective factors are explored, support's considered that may engender more hope and help him endure over the longer term. Or maybe it won't.
Killing himself won't be a happy ending for me. Or for his family. But it may be the ending he wants and needs, in the way and time he chooses. I don't want it to happen, but it's not my choice. I can't have a happy ending every time . . .