My recently published book, Choosing to Die, is the first personal story ever written about Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED). For the next few weeks, I will be sharing excerpts from the Foreword. It is 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 book is available now on Amazon.
“Of all the illnesses to die from in this life, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases have to be among the most daunting. The amount of time from initial diagnosis to eventual death is measured in years rather than months. The prognosis is so long and so uncertain that hospice, the premiere program designed to help provide comfort and dignity at the end of life, is not available until the very last stages. Patients with these diseases eventually become completely dependent upon others, so the shattering impact is on families as well as patients. Is there any way to escape the suffering and indignities that these diseases inevitably create?
This was the challenge faced by Alan Alberts. In this remarkable book, his wife Phyllis gives us an inside look at one couple’s effort to come to grips with and take charge of a devastating diagnosis.
Alan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He wanted to live as long as he could remain cognitively intact and, to at least some degree, be in charge of his life. But he also wanted to escape the long relentless decline and complete loss of self associated with the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease—even if it meant hastening his death. Together Alan and Phyllis explored whether he could have access to a physician assisted death, and learned that even though he lived in one of the six states in the U.S.A. where this practice is currently legal, he would not qualify because his prognosis was too long and uncertain. They then discovered the possibility of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED for short), a process where a seriously ill patient, at a time of his or her own choosing, makes a decision to completely stop eating and drinking in a deliberate effort to hasten death. Alan decided that VSED was his best option.”