My recently published book, Choosing to Die, is the first personal story ever written about Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED). I am continuing to share excerpts from the Foreword, written by Dr. Timothy Quill, a well known palliative care doctor who is a leader in end of life issues. In much of 2015 and 2016, we both helped to organize, and speak at, the first national conference on VSED which was held at Seattle University in October 2016. Dr. Quill was the first keynote speaker.
My book goes into great detail. It is a love story, a partnership, and a journey I took with my husband as we traversed new territory. Now I share this information with others as a means to help educate others. For more resources and information on end of life choices, VSED and my personal story see the rest of my website.
The beginning of the excerpts are here.
“One of the best aspects of this book is that Phyllis is not overly romantic about her story, nor is she overly negative. This book is full to the brim of practical wisdom learned through experience—critical information for anyone who is now contemplating or might ever consider the option of VSED. The book contains no shortage of dilemmas that do not have easy answers. What is the right time to initiate the process? How does one avoid starting too early given the risk of waiting until it is too late? How much decision-making capacity does the patient need to make this decision? How do caregivers manage the patient’s desire to drink when the patient no longer remembers why he or she is not drinking? Can we offer this option to patients who do not have an advocate like Phyllis to organize and provide the care? Is it realistic to do this at home for patients who do not have the psychological, social, and financial resources that Alan and Phyllis had? Should VSED be permitted and supported in inpatient palliative care or hospice units? Should all seriously ill patients be informed about this option, or do they have to discover it on their own?
None of these questions has an easy answer, nor does Phyllis pretend to solve all such dilemmas in this book. Instead she has openly and compassionately described her VSED journey with Alan so that we can learn from her experience.”