End of Life Option Act (EOLOA)
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
As a hospice nurse, I have seen, understandably, a LOT of death. I have been blessed to have witnessed beautiful, peaceful deaths and that is what I strive for with every patient. Some patient's, however have a very difficult time and pain is unmanageable. Sometimes, no amount of medication brings relief. I struggle with this.
I had a patient that had severe pain and shortness of breath; nothing I did brought her comfort, and despite how many I tried, no medications reduced her suffering. When the EOLOA was first approved in California, it was the first time I saw her have some semblance of hope. While her diagnosis was terminal, there was no certainty of the timing, which meant however many days, weeks or months she had left, she would be in pain. This was not the way she wanted to live her last days of life. EOLOA allowed her to have a choice to end her pain with dignity.
I was there the day she did this. My heart was sad because I had grown very fond of her, but I knew, this was the kindest way for her to go and she would no longer feel pain and that was all I wanted for her. Hers was a beautiful death, surrounded by people she loved, with buddhist prayers and chantings. I was honored to have been asked to be there that day.
I respect people who do not support this. I have no intention of changing your mind, that is not for me to do. But at the very least, remove yourself from the equation and imagine a terminally ill person, who is riddled with pain and struggles for breath. Someone has to change their diapers and bathe them because they do not have the strength or energy to do it any more. They are dying, and this won't change, but their death will be long, drawn out and painful. Doesn't this patient deserve the chance to at the very least, choose to shorten the timing of the inevitable and have it be kinder, gentler and bring them peace?
This isn't about us. This is their experience and if this is something they choose, the best thing we can do is support them, be there for them and not judge or punish them. I have been present for many EOLOA deaths; the moment they take the glass in their hands and swallow down the medications is the moment you know, that they know... their pain and suffering will be over.