Life these days, at least for me, is a series of minor inconveniences interrupted at random intervals by not-so-minor frustrations. It has, I suppose, little to recommend it. But so does crawling into a pine box and closing the lid, which stabilizes matters for a period of one eternity. And however much living disturbs me, the prospect of dying somehow seems worse. Actually dying might be different, but on this side of the line, there's no way to know for sure.

And it's that uncertainty that continues to stay my hand: What if I'm wrong? Keep in mind, I'm the sort of person who can spend fifteen minutes agonizing over "Paper or plastic?" (This is not to say that I am chronically indecisive: yes, I do want fries with that.) Juggling variables is second nature to me, and sometimes it crowds its way to first. I suspect, though, that I'm going to have to be in a hell of a lot of pain with no hope of surcease before I do any of that mortal-coil shuffling. And while I don't have a whole lot of hope these days, I also don't have a whole lot of pain.

That said, though, if I really wanted my plug pulled, the place to be these days is the Netherlands:

Seniors in the Netherlands who do not have a terminal illness are eligible for euthanasia. That is the clear message of a new code of practice for euthanasia, which is being sent to every general practitioner in the Netherlands. The normal degenerative conditions that accompany old age are reason enough now for assisted suicide. The only considerations are that the senior says his or her suffering is unbearable and that there is no reasonable prospect of improvement. The senior could still be years away from natural death.

"If a patient wants to receive euthanasia his suffering must be of a medical nature. But he is not required to have a life-threatening condition. An accumulation of old-age complaints — such as sight problems, hearing problems, osteoporosis, arthritis, balance problems, cognitive decline — can cause unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement," says the code of practice. "It is the sum of one or more of these conditions and the accompanying complaints that can cause a suffering that — together with the medical history, biography, personality, values, and pain threshold of the patient — can be experienced by that patient as unbearable with no prospect for improvement."

I had far worse balance problems before back surgery and the subsequent inability to walk; I've had one serious fall in two years, versus one about every two months. And the few people I know with osteoporosis aren't exactly begging for a visit from the Reaper.

And besides, there's always the possibility that the Dutch actually want you dead: to save money, to appear caring and concerned, to speed up the transition to an Islamic state, or for whatever reason. This statistic is not heartening:

The code of practice is issued by the regional committees that oversee how doctors carry out euthanasia in the Netherlands. They review every reported instance of euthanasia to make sure the doctor followed the law. The code of practice is intended to help doctors understand how they will be evaluated. Last year, the committees reviewed 6,585 reported cases of euthanasia and found 12 instances where a doctor had acted negligently.

I don't know which is scarier: that six thousand Nederlanders sought to off themselves in a single year, or that the government found only a dozen cases where perhaps they shouldn't have.

The thing about being dead is that it lasts for a very long time. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for that kind of commitment just yet. Of course, your mileage may vary.

The Vent

#1066
  25 June 2018

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