Friday, August 07, 2009

Terry Pratchett: I Live In Hope I Can Jump Before I Am Pushed...

There’s a Terry Pratchett feature and article on the Daily Mail website written earlier this week dealing with the difficult and emotive issue of assisted suicide. His comments come in the wake of the ruling in the House Of Lords over the case of Debbie Purdy (BBC) and, as you might expect from Terry Pratchett, it’s impassioned, emotive and most of all a shining light of simple, plain, reasonable common sense.

As you probably know, Pratchett, 61, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers disease in 2007 and has since become a very public advocate of greater research and greater understanding of the disease. And although it’s sad to hear the man talk about the day he will decide he wants to end his life when the disease takes it’s toll and takes his words away it’s also a very positive and thought provoking piece.

“We are being stupid. We have been so successful in the past century at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still. At least, that is what I thought until last week.

Now, however, I live in hope – hope that before the disease in my brain finally wipes it clean, I can jump before I am pushed and drag my evil Nemesis to its doom, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty locked in combat as they go over the waterfall.

In any case, such thinking bestows a wonderful feeling of power; the enemy might win but it won’t triumph.”

We've seen Alzheimer's in our family. My maternal Grandma had it. I was too young to fully grasp what was going on but the memory of how badly it affected both my Grandma and mother are enough to convince me that Pratchett is talking complete sense. And I know that if I'm ever unfortunate enough to suffer from it in later life I'll be making exactly the same plans as Pratchett. And like him, I can only hope that sense and humanity prevails and by that time it's no longer a requirement to skulk away to Switzerland in relative secrecy and snatch your last moment of free will miles away from home.

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