Reflective Meandering

Thoughts on faith, people, politics, travel, and transition.

We Must Persevere

I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. Aside from the autoimmune nature of my disease, being Type 1 means I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic. My father-in-law lovingly called me the bionic woman one night as I measured out the insulin I needed to cover my meal – I do have a machine functioning as my pancreas – I thought it was funny.

It’s not always easy to be Type 1, but I’m not on death’s door. The average life span of a Type 1 diabetic is 69 years. I have a lot of years ahead of me, and a lot of adventures, too. That’s not how some people see me and my diseases, though.

My disease is terminal, and if I don’t use synthetic insulin, I will die within six months. That makes me eligible for assisted suicide. I’m sure my insurance carrier would prefer that to the infusion sets, pump cartridges, and insulin I purchase every month, but it’s certainly not compassionate healthcare. This broad definition of a terminal disease doesn’t just apply to diabetics, either. HIV patients, ALS patients, cancer patients, and others who may be medication-dependent are all now suicide-eligible in the District of Columbia.

The District of Columbia recently passed an assisted suicide law. People with a terminal disease and a doctor who says they have six months to live can now, in the District of Columbia, receive a lethal drug to kill themselves. No mental health exam is required prior to filling the prescription, and medical staff are not required to administer the lethal drugs. In fact, heirs and beneficiaries can help usher in their benefactors’ deaths.

I read the story of a man with ALS who said he was clinically depressed after being diagnosed with ALS at 18 years old. He said that due to his depression, if he was offered the option of assisted suicide at that time, he likely would’ve requested it. He’s now in his 70’s. He had decades to live and love and adventure. He expressed his thankfulness for living in an age where human dignity was understood to be intrinsic and people were valued not for how they could be productive, but because of who created them.

We have value because God created us in his image. When we venture away from that understanding of who we are and who we were created to be, we will tend toward a utilitarian approach to life. We will cease to value people because they’re people, and will care only about what they can provide or create.

This bent toward assisted suicide is a function of pride. A desire to be divine, to determine when life begins, when life ends, and how many years intervene between life and death. The problem is miracles exist. People are healed on their deathbeds in medically inexplicable ways. Doctors are sometimes wrong. People deserve healthcare, not a way out. This doesn’t even begin to broach the fact that suffering has purpose, and that our lives are not our own.

We were all created for a purpose. We are not our own. Through suffering, through diabetes and cancer and heart-ache and loss, we must persevere.

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