Author Terry Pratchett is one of a long line of celebrities to be struck down with Alzheimer's disease. He is a British author who was born in 1948, which means he is only 62 years old. Terry is famous for producing quirky and often comical fantasys.
How cruel for someone with such a splendid imagination to be struck down in such a way.
Terry has begun campaiging for a change in British law, regarding assisted suicides. His is not the first such campaign.
A few years ago Diane Pretty tried to have the UK law changed, so that she could voluntarily committ euthanasia, before her illness totally robbed her of her last shreds of individuality. Diane was fairly young and suffered from Motor Neurone disease, which is another dreadful condition.
However, despite many people's best efforts the law remains unchanged.
More recently, we have read about British people, who have it within their means, travelling to Switzerland where the law is slightly different. There have been campaigns attempting to ensure that the person helping the individual, often a loved one, is not prosecuted on their return to the UK.
Pratchett has proposed that the UK begins to think about the how law can be changed, in order to encompass assisited suicides.
My gut instinct is that a change should be possible. However, it would no doubt be a nightmare to administer. Terry has suggested that something along the lines of euthanasia tribunals could be used for those people with incurable illnesses. Of course, I assume he means for those people who want to commit assisted, voluntary suicide.
The whole subject is unfortuantely a minefield.
Alzheimer's is a prime example.
In my life I have personally known only one person who had alzheimers. This person had worked in the medical profession and in her younger years had always sworn that she would never suffer a lingering death. She told everyone, in her family, that she knew what to do, in order to end her misery if she became terminally ill. She had no doubt that she would do it.
This lady lived a long and full life.
Unfortunately Alzheimer's took her quite quickly. In no time at all that bright, intelligent person was gone. The lady left behind could hardly make a warm drink, let alone take her own life.
What is a family to do in such circumstances?
Deep down, for all anyone knew, this lady may have wanted to continue living. There are people who truly believe that life is precious and should be defended at all costs. It is not fair to contradict such beliefs.
Of course in reality this lady had already died and only her form existed.
My own thoughts are that, people should not have to suffer, as they so often do. We love our pets so much, that we cannot bear them to suffer and, when the time is right, we let them go.
I have seen sad souls and thought, if he or she had a fur coat, in other words were an animal, we would help them on their way.
I have come across long lingering painful deaths in my family, due to other illnesses. It is heartbreaking and usually serves no purpose.
I am not sure how we can get the balance right but I feel we must. Just as we have moved on and now accept IVF, for those who cannot have children, we must accept a form of euthanasia.