A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne
K. Young, Associate Editor.
She had a plan to end her life, but she needed a little help from me.
She was 87.
Mrs Smyth was in her late 70s when I first met her; she had breast cancer
metastatic to bone. She would live for years with a large lytic lesion at
C2, a Christopher Reeve type of problem had it ever collapsed. Mrs Smyth knew
this and made it very clear to me that if she ever stopped breathing, she
wanted no “so-called resuscitation.”
Mrs Smyth had little sympathy for the infirm or for the dead. She hated
nursing homes, not able to accept what Alzheimer disease had done to so many
of her bridge partners. One of her pet peeves was the way some women talked
about their deceased husbands. Mrs Smyth would parody: “‘Oh, I
know how happy George is up there, golfing every day,’” and then
comment, “How stupid! What can they be thinking?”
Hartmann LC. The Octogenarian’s Plan. JAMA. 2005;293(1):15-16. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.15