More than 5 years ago, I found myself in the exact same position that Susan Wolf had found herself in with her father. In my case, it was the end of life care for an elderly aunt who had no other family and as such, became a part of mine. She was my ward in a way, fully reliant and dependent on me in so many ways due to her advanced age. I thought that she was a very healthy person and could possibly go on living forever since she was under constant medical care. But all the medical care that the doctors could provide for her could not remove the nagging pains that seemed to be ravaging her fast aging body.
It was because of that physical manifestation of pain that led my mother and I to bring her to a Chinese holistic healer who treated her with some sort of secret Chinese medical injection. His clinic was clean and his instruments seemed well disinfected. I had no idea that by bringing her to this doctor, we would be opening the gateway to death for her. He administered his injections into her twice that month. On the second injection, she developed an uncontrollable fever and could no longer get out of bed without assistance. She was hospitalized that weekend. The doctor's diagnosis was clear. She had Sepsis and it had spread throughout her blood, there was no way she could be saved. She was going to die a slow and painful death as the infection ravaged her body and her biological systems shut down.
She was told of the diagnosis. We did not hide the fact that she was given a diagnosis that she would be going home a vegetable, if she ever made it out. She made her decision that day, she wanted to go home. And so she did. She was no longer able to move anything other than her head by that point. She was bedridden and needed constant care. My life and the lives of those around me were upturned by the events. Nobody could go on with their regular lives. We all lived to serve her and make sure she was comfortable until her final hour on the physical plane.
As the pain got worse, she was constantly being injected with antibiotics that did not seem to do much to control the infection or pain. Later on, she began choking on her food, even a drink of water seemed to drown her. A feeding tube was then attached in order to keep her fed and hydrated. But everything that we were doing for her was for naught. During one particularly painful episode, she called me to her side and asked me “Can you help me die?” I was dumbstruck. I never thought that this woman, who lived through the horrors of life and helped raise me as a child would ever get to such a low point in her own life. I did not know how to answer her and chose to ignore the question. I pretend it was a joke instead.
If I had only known then that she was going to slip into a coma and be turned into a pin cushion as the home doctor's visit turned into a poking and prodding session that, I could was hurting her a lot. She may have been in a coma and unable to open her eyes or utter a...