Life-limiting illnesses are associated with many losses. Loss of control is one of the worst losses of all. As the condition progresses the losses continue to accumulate and some may be worse than others depending on each person. Things that were taken for granted are missed greatly and some of the losses can be especially cruel. Each of them is grieved over.
She loved to talk and would chatter away from morning to night, until the last months of her life. Her friends couldn’t recognise her voice when they phoned each other. Her voice sounded as hoarse as a young pop star before rehabilitative larynx surgery. Her breathing worsened and she wasn’t able to produce the volumes she was used to speaking at. As the weeks went by her voice played hide and seek and became harder to track down. Only a whisper was left, and even her family couldn’t understand what she said at times.
When she lost her voice she also lost one of the loves of her life. She loved to sing, she would put on her favourite CDs and sing along to them for hours at a time. Singing made her happy, and her voice brought happiness to those around her. When she was no longer able to sing she put away her CDs. She didn’t want to listen to them as they reminded her of how much she had lost. The loss of music was as bad as the amputation of a limb.
Reflected in the mirror was the face of an old lady. Even though she had collected many years, nobody would have ever called her old. Her hairstyle had been a work of art. Her clothing was selected from all over the world. A fancy lady who loved to strut her stuff. The COVID lockdowns had meant the fashion show had to be kept at home. She still dressed up and gave herself a catwalk show in her bedroom. The relentless weight loss led to her clothing not fitting well, so the fashion shows ended too. She didn’t have the energy to look after her hair anymore. For the first time in her life, she started wearing hats. She didn’t want anyone to see her with grey hair. No one had ever seen her with grey hair before, not even her husband.
She couldn’t do what she wanted to do anymore. She couldn’t be who she had always been. She felt worse each day and no longer wanted to live. She felt her suffering was intolerable. She wanted to take back some control. That’s what led her to ask the doctor about assisted dying. She had to do it before she lost her voice completely.